Radiative and conductive heat transfer is fairly important in the nuclear pebble bed. A continuum model is proposed here to derive the effective thermal conductivity (ETC) of pebble bed. It is a physics-based equation determined by the temperature, number density, heat transfer coefficient, and the radial distribution function (RDF). Based on a concept of continuum, this model considers the conduction and thermal radiation in nuclear pebble bed through a uniform framework and the results are in good agreement with the existing model and correlations. It indicates that the local temperature in the radiation case without internal heat sources is determined by all possible surrounding pebbles weighted by a radiative kernel function. The discrete element method (DEM) packing results are in good agreement with the solution of the continuum model. Both the conductive and radiative continuum models converge to the heat conduction in continuum mechanics at size factor μ ≪ 1.

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