Failure analysis of pebble bed reactors during earthquake by discrete element method


I. Keppler




Nuclear Engineering and Design



Pebble bed reactors (PBR) are graphite-moderated, gas-cooled nuclear reactors. PBR reactors use a large number of spherical fuel elements called pebbles. From mechanical point of view, the arrangement of “small” spherical fuel elements in a container poses the same problem, as the so-called silo problem in powder technology and agricultural engineering. To get more exact information about the contact forces arising between the fuel elements in static and dynamic case, we simulated the static case and the effects of an earthquake on a model reactor by using discrete element method. We determined the maximal contact forces acting between the individual fuel elements. We found that the value of the maximal bending moment in the central reflector beam has a high deviation from the average value even in static case, and it can significantly increase in case of an earthquake. Our results can help the engineers working on the design of such types of reactors to get information about the contact forces, to determine the dust production and the crush probability of fuel elements within the reactor, and to model different accident scenarios.


Discrete element method, Earthquake, failure analysis, Pebble bed reactor

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