Date: 16 Jun 2012

Comparison of Different Upscaling Methods for Predicting Thermal Conductivity of Complex Heterogeneous Materials System: Application on Nuclear Waste Forms

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To develop strategies for determining thermal conductivity based on the prediction of a complex heterogeneous materials system and loaded nuclear waste forms, the computational efficiency and accuracy of different upscaling methods has been evaluated. The effective thermal conductivity, obtained from microstructure information and local thermal conductivity of different components, is critical in predicting the life and performance of waste forms during storage. Several methods, including the Taylor model, Sachs model, self-consistent model, and statistical upscaling method, were developed and implemented. Microstructure-based finite-element method (FEM) prediction results were used to as a benchmark to determine the accuracy of the different upscaling methods. Micrographs from waste forms with varying waste loadings were used in the prediction of thermal conductivity in FEM and homogenization methods. Prediction results demonstrated that in term of efficiency, boundary models (e.g., Taylor model and Sachs model) are stronger than the self-consistent model, statistical upscaling method, and finite-element method. However, when balancing computational efficiency and accuracy, statistical upscaling is a useful method in predicting effective thermal conductivity for nuclear waste forms.

Manuscript submitted January 24, 2012.