Purpose: The aim of the paper is to evaluate buckling instabilities behaviour of long curved thin shell. Both initially straight and curved tubes are investigated with numerical and experimental assessment methods, in the context of NPP applications with an illustrative example for IRIS LWR integrated Steam Generator (SG) tubes. Design/methodology/approach: In this study structural buckling response tube with combination effects of geometric imperfections as well as initially bent shape under external pressure load are investigated using a non linear finite element (MSC.MARC FEM code) formulation analysis. Moreover results are presented, extending the findings of previous research activity works, carried out at Pisa University, on thin walled metal specimen. Findings: The experiments were conducted on Inconel 690 test specimen tube. The comparison between numerical and experimental results, for the same geometry and loading conditions, shows a good agreement between the elastic-plastic finite-element predictions and the experimental data. Research limitations/implications: The presented research results may be considered preliminary in the sense that it would be important to enlarge the statistical base of the results themselves, even if they are yet certainly meaningful to highlight the real problem, considering the relatively large variability of the geometrical imperfections and bending instabilities also in high quality production tubes. Originality/value: From the point of view of the practical implication, besides the addressed problem general interest in industrial plant technology, it is worth to stress that straight and curved axis tubes are foreseen specifically in innovative nuclear reactors SG design.
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