Evaluation of a Long-Term Thermal Load on the Sealing Characteristics of Potential Sediments for a Deep Radioactive Waste Disposal

Norbert Clauer, Miroslav Honty, Lander Frederickx, Christophe Nussbaum

Research outputpeer-review


An in situ and a batch heating experiment were applied on the fine-grained sediments of the Opalinus Clay from Mont Terri (Switzerland) and the Boom Clay of Mol (Belgium), both being currently studied as potential host formations for deep nuclear waste disposal. The purpose was here a test of the impact of a 100 °C temperature rise that is expected to be produced by nuclear waste in deep repositories. The experiment on the Opalinus Clay mimicked real conditions with 8-months operating heating devices stored in core drillings into the rock. The comparison of the major, trace, rare-earth elemental contents and of the whole-rock K-Ar data before and after heating shows only a few variations beyond analytical uncertainty. However, the necessary drillings for collecting control samples after the experiment added an unexpected uncertainty to the analyses due to the natural heterogeneity of the rock formation, even if very limited. To overcome this aspect, Boom Clay ground material was subjected to a batch experiment in sealed containers during several years. The drawback being here the fact that controls were limited with, however, similar reproducible results that also suggest limited elemental transfers from rock size into that of the <2 μm material, unless the whole rocks lost more elements than the fine fractions. The analyses generated by the two experiments point to identical conclusions: a visible degassing and dewatering of the minerals that did not induce a visible alteration/degradation of the host-rock safety characteristics after the short-term temperature increase.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14004
Number of pages23
Issue number21
StatePublished - 27 Oct 2022

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