The computational fluid dynamics code FLUENT has been used to analyze turbulent fluid flow over pebbles in a pebble bed modular reactor. The objective of the analysis is to evaluate the capability of the various RANS turbulence models to predict mean velocities, turbulent kinetic energy, and turbulence intensity inside the bed. The code was run using three RANS turbulence models: standard k-ε, standard k-ω and the Reynolds stress turbulence models at turbulent Reynolds numbers, corresponding to normal operation of the reactor. For the k-ε turbulence model, the analyses were performed at a range of Reynolds numbers between 1300 and 22 000 based on the approach velocity and the sphere diameter of 6 cm. Predictions of the mean velocities, turbulent kinetic energy, and turbulence intensity for the three models are compared at the Reynolds number of 5500 for all the RANS models analyzed. A unit-cell approach is used and the fluid flow domain consists of three unit cells. The packing of the pebbles is an orthorhombic arrangement consisting of seven layers of pebbles with the mean flow parallel to the z-axis. For each Reynolds number analyzed, the velocity is observed to accelerate to twice the inlet velocity within the pebble bed. From the velocity contours, it can be seen that the flow appears to have reached an asymptotic behavior by the end of the first unit cell. The velocity vectors for the standard k-ε and the Reynolds stress model show similar patterns for the Reynolds number analyzed. For the standard k-ω, the vectors are different from the other two. Secondary flow structures are observed for the standard k-ω after the flow passes through the gap between spheres. This feature is not observable in the case of both the standard k-ε and the RSM. Analysis of the turbulent kinetic energy contours shows that there is higher turbulence kinetic energy near the inlet than inside the bed. As the Reynolds number increases, kinetic energy inside the bed increases. The turbulent kinetic energy values obtained for the standard k-ε and the RSM are similar, showing maximum turbulence kinetic energy of 7.5 m2·s−2, whereas the standard k-ω shows a maximum of about 20 m2·s−2. Another observation is that the turbulence intensity is spread throughout the flow domain for the k-ε and RSM whereas for the k-ω, the intensity is concentrated at the front of the second sphere. Preliminary analysis performed for the pressure drop using the standard k-ε model for various velocities show that the dependence of pressure on velocity varies as V1.76.

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