The storage of high level radioactive waste is still an unresolved problem of the nuclear industry, being geological disposal the most favoured option and, naturally, the one requiring the strongest geo-mechanical input. Most conceptual designs for the deep geological disposal of nuclear waste envisage placing the canisters containing the waste in horizontal drifts or vertical boreholes. The empty space surrounding the canisters is filled by an engineered barrier often made up of compacted swelling clay. In the barrier and the near field, significant thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) phenomena take place that interact in a complex way. A good understanding of THM issues is, therefore, necessary to ensure a correct performance of engineered barriers and seals. The conditions of the bentonite in an engineered barrier for high-level radioactive waste disposal are being simulated in a mock-up heating test at almost scale, at the premises of CIEMAT in Madrid. The evolution of the main Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical (THM) variables of this test are analysed in this paper by using a fully coupled THM formulation and the corresponding finite element code. Special emphasis has been placed on the study of the effect of thermo-osmotic flow in the hydration of the clay barrier at an advanced staged of the experiment.

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Published on 01/01/2010

Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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