Environmental Earth Sciences

, 75:1350 | Cite as

Analysis of the THM behaviour in a clay-based engineered barrier system (EBS): modelling of the HE-E experiment (Mont Terri URL)

  • Xuerui Wang
  • Hua Shao
  • Jürgen Hesser
  • Olaf Kolditz
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. DECOVALEX 2015


To understand the complex thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) processes and their evolution in a clay-based engineered barrier systems (EBS) during the closure phase of a geological repository for radioactive waste, a 1:2 scale in situ heating experiment (HE-E experiment) has been ongoing since 2011 in the Mont Terri Rock laboratory. Based on the experimental data, a fully coupled THM 3D simulation using the finite-element program OpenGeoSys was carried out. The main objectives of the simulation were to interpret the experimental observations, to understand the thermally induced THM interactions and to analyse the different material properties. Five experimental phases were numerically interpreted, in order to take into account the changes in the temporary material properties during experimental operations. These included the tunnel excavation, the ventilation, the emplacement of the bentonite EBS, the heating phase and the phase after shutdown of the heater. A non-isothermal Richards’ flow model was used to take into account the evaporation and vapour diffusion during the heating. The material behaviours of EBS in association with the saturation-dependent thermal conductivity and the water retention behaviour under high temperatures were analysed in detail. The strong thermal, hydraulic and mechanical anisotropic properties of the Opalinus Clay were described by a transversely isotropic model.


Disposal of radioactive high-level waste THM coupling Thermal effects Clay-based material OpenGeoSys 



This work was funded by BMWi (Bundesmisterium für Wirtschaft und Energie, Berlin). The authors would like to thank BMWi for their financial and technical support of the DECOVALEX project work described in this paper. The statements made in the paper are, however, solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of funding organisation(s). Also, no responsibility is assumed by the authors for any damage to property or persons as a result of operation or use of this publication and/or the information contained therein.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR)HanoverGermany
  2. 2.Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)LeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Technical University of DresdenDresdenGermany

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