A discrete element method study on the evolution of thermomechanics of a pebble bed experiencing pebble failure

JT Van Lew and A Ying and M Abdou, FUSION ENGINEERING AND DESIGN, 89, 1151-1157 (2014).

DOI: 10.1016/j.fusengdes.2014.04.066

The discrete element method (DEM) is used to study the thermal effects of pebble failure in an ensemble of lithium ceramic spheres. Some pebbles crushing in a large system is unavoidable and this study provides correlations between the extent of pebble failure and the reduction in effective thermal conductivity of the bed. In the model, we homogeneously induced failure and applied nuclear heating until dynamic and thermal steady-state. Conduction between pebbles and from pebbles to the boundary is the only mode of heat transfer presently modeled. The effective thermal conductivity was found to decrease rapidly as a function of the percent of failed pebbles in the bed. It was found that the dominant contributor to the reduction was the drop in inter-particle forces as pebbles fail; implying the extent of failure induced may not occur in real pebble beds. The results are meant to assist designers in the fusion energy community who are planning to use packed beds of ceramic pebbles. The evolution away from experimentally measured thermomechanical properties as pebbles fail is necessary for proper operation of fusion reactors. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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