The in-plane (in-flow) fluid-elastic instability (in-plane FEI) of triangular tube arrays caused tube-to-tube wear indications as observed in the U-bend regions of tube bundles of the San Onofre Unit-3 steam generators[1]. Several researches revealed that the in-plane FEI is likely to occur in a tightly packed triangular tube array under high velocity and low friction conditions, while it is not likely to occur in a square array tube bundle. In order to confirm the potential of steam-wise fluid-elastic instability of square arrays, the critical flow velocity in two-phase flow, (sulfur hexafluoride-ethanol) which simulates steam-water flow, was investigated.

Two types of test rigs were prepared to confirm the effect of the tube diameter and tube pitch ratio on the critical velocity. In both rigs, vibration amplitudes were measured in both in-flow and out-of-flow directions in various flow conditions. In any case, in-flow fluid elastic instability was not detected. Based on the results of the tests, it is concluded that the flow interaction force is small for concern to occur the fluid-elastic instability in the in-flow direction of the square tube bundles of steam generators.

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