A review on numerical models for granular flow inside hoppers and its applications in PBR

L. Zhang, Q. Guo, Y. Tang
Taylor & Francis
Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology
burnup measurement/assay, Discrete element method, Granular flow, kinematic model, PBR

Granular flow is the shearing motion of a collection of discrete solid particles which are commonly seen and widely utilized in various industrial applications. One of the essential applications of dense slow granular flow in engineering is the pebble flow in pebble-bed nuclear reactor (PBR). A number of numerical models have been established for researching the basic physical mechanisms and properties of granular flow. For the purpose of generating an appropriate model for high temperature reactor-pebblebed modules (HTR-PM) in the future, numerical models on granular flow in hoppers and some of their previous applications on PBRs are reviewed. In this paper, basic transport and contact mechanisms of granular flow are firstly introduced, then kinetic theory from gas molecules and plastic theory from metal mechanics approaches give descriptions of the macroscopic behavior of rapid flow and quasistatic flow regimes, respectively, subsequently kinematic continuum method and discrete element method (DEM) are presented to describe the bulk features of dense slow flow in hoppers. Since various kinematic models, DEM models and their modified versions for dense slow granular flow in hoppers have been experimentally verified and applied in prediction of pebble flow in PBRs, a promising model for HTR-PM is expected with further work to generate pebble flow profile in the future.

Keywords: granular flow, discrete element method, kinematic model, PBR, burnup measurement/assay

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