Experimental testing and modelling of a Design for HLW Disposal through a Large Scale Mock-Up
Since 1974, Belgium investigates the design for disposal of its High Level Radioactive Waste (HLW) in a deep clay formation, the “Boom Clay”. Although the clay formation is the main (natural) barrier against the transport of the radionuclides towards the biosphere, the design also involves several engineered barriers (multi-barrier principle). In the design developed in the late 1980’s, a non-saturated bentonite based material was chosen as part of this barrier system. Prior to demonstrating this design in in-situ conditions, a surface mock-up test has been operated between 1997 and 2002. This test served as a preliminary test on the performance of several components of the system, such as bentonite based backfill blocks and instrumentation. With clearly defined heating and hydration conditions, it gave us the opportunity to perform a large scale simulation of the hydration/saturation of the backfill at controlled conditions. After describing the general disposal design and the experimental set-up, this paper will detail the measurements and observations obtained during operating and dismantling the mock-up. To support the interpretation of these measurements and observations, a modelling of the experimental set-up is being performed. We further detail the characterisation programme carried out to obtain the input data for the modelling. Finally, lessons learned for the development of the design for the HLW disposal will be drawn.
KeywordsInput Data Fluid Dynamics Experimental Testing Preliminary Test Radioactive Waste
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