Large Eddy Simulation of Convective Heat Transfer in a Random Pebble Bed Using the Spectral Element Method

Tri Nguyen, David Reger, Dezhi Dai, Elia Merzari, Haomin Yuan, Brian Jackson, Giacomo Busco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of fluoride-cooled high-temperature reactors has drastically increased the demand for an in-depth understanding of the heat transfer (HT) in packed beds cooled by liquid salts. The complex flow fields and space-dependent porosity found in a pebble bed require a detailed understanding to ensure the proper cooling of the reactor core during normal and accident conditions. As detailed experimental data are complicated to obtain for these configurations, high-fidelity simulation such as large eddy simulation and direct numerical simulation (DNS) can be employed to create a high-resolution heat transfer numerical database that can assist in addressing industrial-driven issues associated with the heat transfer behavior of fluoride-cooled high-temperature reactors. In this paper, we performed a series of large eddy simulation using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code NekRS to investigate the heat transfer for a bed of 1741 pebbles. The characteristics of the flow, such as average, rms, and time series of velocity and temperature, have been analyzed. Porous media averages have also been performed. The simulation results show a good agreement between non-conjugate heat transfer and conjugate heat transfer. The generated data will be used to benchmark heat transfer modeling methods and local maxima/minima of heat transfer parameters. It will also be used for supporting convective heat transfer quantification for Kairos Power and benchmarking lower fidelity models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121001
JournalASME Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science

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