Direct Numerical Simulation and Large Eddy Simulation of a 67-Pebble-Bed Experiment

David Reger, Elia Merzari, Paolo Balestra, Sebastian Schunert, Yassin Hassan, Stephen King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


An in-depth understanding of the flow physics in packed beds is critical for developing simulation tools for pebble bed reactors. Advances in computing power have now made the full-core pebble-resolved computational fluid dynamics simulation of these systems possible. This work presents validation of the velocity and pressure predictions made by the spectral element code NekRS followed by a study of the turbulent kinetic energy and turbulent heat flux budgets. Two cases with corresponding experiments are considered: a bed of 67 pebbles with Re = 1460 and a bed of 789 pebbles with 324 < Re < 1024. Velocity and pressure drop comparisons are performed with the two cases, respectively. Good agreement is found between the experiments and their respective NekRS simulations. The 67-pebble case was then used to perform a direct numerical simulation to extract the turbulent kinetic energy and turbulent heat flux budget terms. Analysis of the turbulent kinetic energy production revealed large areas of negative production near the bottom surfaces of the pebbles. Further investigation revealed a trend between the average amount of negative turbulent kinetic energy production and the local porosity. These results continue to suggest that inertial effects play a large role in differentiating near-wall flow from bed-interior flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1258-1278
Number of pages21
JournalNuclear Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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