Heat exchangers are widely used in power plants as well as petrochemical facilities. Typical heat exchangers consist of a number of thin-walled tubes and several support plates. Operating experience of the heat exchangers has shown that flaws of various morphologies frequently occur in the tubes. Therefore, an accurate integrity assessment of the cracked tube is quite important from the viewpoint of safety and reliability. The heat exchanger tubes are supported at regular intervals by the support plates, and rotations as well as translations of the tubes are partially restrained. It was reported that the burst pressures for the circumferential through-wall cracks are significantly affected by the support plates, and existing limit load solutions differ from the actual burst pressure. However, the effect of the support plate on the burst pressure of axially flawed tubes has not been fully investigated. This paper evaluates detailed burst pressures and crack opening displacements for the tubes with axial flaws considering the effect of the support plates through three-dimensional finite element analyses.

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