The best way to design a nuclear steam generating system to withstand seismic stresses is to establish a mathematical model, to which seismic loading can be applied, to determine the dynamic responses of the system. A practical approach for establishing such a model is to idealize the components in terms of beam elements which form the essential building blocks of the analytical model. The major shell structures of reactor vessels and steam generators are usually supported at a single elevation in the system, and are often simulated by cantilever beam elements. The use of a beam element to represent shell structure must be justified. This paper presents the results of a parametric study of thin-walled cylindrical shells which are clamped at one end while the other end is free. By using 3-D plate/shell finite element analysis, the region of application, where the beam element can reasonably simulate to shell structure, has been defiined as the combination of its geometrical parameters, e.g., the thickness/radius and length/radius. As an illustrative example, the 3-D finite element method has been used to investigate the seismic analysis of a cantilever cylindrical shell similar to the Clinch River LMFBR reactor vessel. The numerical values are compared with those produced by a beam element model. The results and conclusions obtained by this investigation can be applied to improve dynamic modeling techniques in general.

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