In nuclear packed pebble beds, it is a fundamental task to model effective thermal conductivity (ETC) of thermal radiation. Based on the effective heat transfer cells of structured packing, a short-range radiation model (SRM) and a subcell radiation model (SCM) are applied to obtain analytical results of ETC. It is shown that the SRM of present effective heat transfer cells are in good agreement with the numerical simulations of random packing and it is only slightly higher than empirical correlations when temperature exceeds 1200 °C. In order to develop a generic theoretical approach of modeling ETC, the subcell radiation model is presented and in good agreement with Kunii–Smith correlation, especially at very high temperature ranges (over 1500 °C). Based on SCM, one-dimensional (1D) radial heat transfer model is applied in the analysis of the HTTU experiments. The results of ETC and radial temperature distribution are in good agreement with the experimental data.

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