Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 124, Issue 1, pp 159–182 | Cite as

Coupled Processes Modeling in Rock Salt and Crushed Salt Including Halite Solubility Constraints: Application to Disposal of Heat-Generating Nuclear Waste

  • Laura Blanco-Martín
  • Jonny Rutqvist
  • Alfredo Battistelli
  • Jens T. Birkholzer


This paper presents numerical modeling of coupled thermal, hydraulic and mechanical processes in rock salt and crushed salt considering halite solubility constraints. The TOUGH-FLAC simulator is used, with a recently enhanced Equation-Of-State module that includes the thermodynamic properties of aqueous fluids of variable salinity. Laboratory and field scale tests performed on rock salt and crushed salt under temperature gradients are modeled first to evaluate the capabilities of the simulator to reproduce important features, such as porosity changes induced by halite dissolution/precipitation, and brine and heat migration. Since the results are quite satisfactory, the simulator is used to predict the long-term response of a generic salt repository for heat-generating nuclear waste. To evaluate the impacts of halite solubility on the predictions, two simulations that respectively consider or neglect solubility constraints are performed. In the scenario studied, the results are not significantly affected by dissolution/precipitation, and only some differences are observed due to changes in porosity, but the dominating processes remain the same. With the new provisions, TOUGH-FLAC is more complete in terms of processes occurring around a heat-releasing nuclear waste package and can therefore provide more accurate predictions of the long-term performance of a nuclear waste repository in salt formations.


Natural and crushed salt Halite solubility THM processes Nuclear waste disposal Numerical modeling 



Funding for this work has been provided by the Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition Campaign, Office of Nuclear Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy, under Contract Number DE-AC02-05CH11231 with Berkeley Lab.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Energy Geosciences DivisionLawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Risamb DepartmentSaipem SpAFanoItaly
  3. 3.MINES ParisTech, Department of GeosciencesPSL Research UniversityFontainebleauFrance

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