Modelling of silica diffusion experiments with 32Si in Boom Clay

Marc Aertsens, Pierre De Cannière, Hugo Moors

    Research outputpeer-review


    A mathematical model describing the dissolution of nuclear glass directly disposed in clay combines a first-order dissolution rate law with the diffusion of dissolved silica in clay. According to this model, the main parameters describing the long-term dissolution of the glass are etaR, the product of the diffusion accessible porosity eta and the retardation factor R, and the apparent diffusion coefficient D(app) of dissolved silica in clay. For determining the migration parameters needed for long-term predictions, four Through-Diffusion (T-D) experiments and one percolation test have been performed on undisturbed clay cores. In the Through-Diffusion experiments, the concentration decrease after injection of 32Si (radioactive labelled silica) was measured in the inlet compartment. At the end of the T-D experiments, the clay cores were cut in thin slices and the activity of labelled silica in each slice was determined. The measured activity profiles for these four clay cores are well reproducible. Since no labelled silica could be detected in the outlet compartments, the Through-Diffusion experiments are fitted by two In-Diffusion models: one model assuming linear and reversible sorption equilibrium and a second model taking into account sorption kinetics. Although the kinetic model provides better fits, due to the sufficiently long duration of the experiments, both models give approximately similar values for the fit parameters. The single percolation test leads to an apparent diffusion coefficient value about two to three times lower than those of the Through-Diffusion tests. Therefore, dissolved silica appears to be strongly retarded in Boom Clay. A retardation factor R between 100 and 300 was determined. The corresponding in situ distribution coefficient K(d) is in the range 25-75 cm(3) g(-1). The apparent diffusion coefficient of dissolved silica in Boom Clay is estimated between 2 x 10(-13) and 7 x 10(-13) m(2) s(-1). The pore diffusion coefficient is in the range from 6 x 10(-11) to 1 x 10(-10) m(2) s(-1).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13
    Number of pages117
    JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
    StatePublished - Mar 2003

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