Discrete element modelling of pebble beds: With application to uniaxial compression tests of ceramic breeder pebble beds
In this paper, a discrete element simulation scheme for pebble beds in fusion blankets is presented. Each individual pebble is considered as one element obeying equilibrium conditions under contact forces. We study not only the rearrangement of particles but also the overall behaviour of an assembly under the action of macroscopic compressive stresses. Using random close packing as initial configurations, the discrete element simulation of the uniaxial compression test has been quantitatively compared to experiments. This method yields the distribution of the inter-particle contact forces. Moreover, the micro-macro relations have been investigated to relate the microscopic information, such as the maximum contact force and the coordination number inside the assembly, to the macroscopic stress variables.