Natural convection heat transfer in fluid-saturated porous media has in recent years gained considerable attention especially in High Temperature Reactors (HTR). It is lately proposed that Light Water Reactors (LWT) can be made safer by re-designing the fuel in the fuel assembly. In the proposed design, porous medium containing fuel in the form of loose coated particles in a Helium environment is introduced inside the cladding tubes of the fuel elements. These coated particles are treated as a bed from where heat is transferred to the cladding tube and the gas movement is due to natural convection. This proposal will require an understanding of the heat transfer characteristics from heated particles fuel to the gas atmosphere within the cladding tubes.
In this present study, the natural convection heat transfer characteristics in packed beds from fluid-to-particle and bed particles to helium gas (thermal energy storage system) was experimentally investigated. Medium condition in this study was homogenous, isotropic, negligible radiant heat transfer and at local thermal non-equilibrium (LTNE). Theoretical formulation of microscopic thermal energy balance in the medium was employed in the analysis of experimental data. This formulation accounts for the convective heat transfer coefficient, the net rate of heat conduction into a unit volume of the solid and the heat production per unit volume of the particle. Dimensionless parameters like the Nusselt, Grashof, Prandtl, Rayleigh and Biot numbers defining heat transfer effect in the medium were equally determined and results validated with the KTA correlation.