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Assessing the long-term behaviour of the industrial bentonites employed in a repository for radioactive wastes by studying natural bentonites in the field

Alexander, W. Russell; Reijonen, Heini M.; MacKinnon, Gillian; Milodowski, Antoni E.; Pitty, Alistair F.; Siathas, Andreas. 2017 Assessing the long-term behaviour of the industrial bentonites employed in a repository for radioactive wastes by studying natural bentonites in the field. Geosciences, 7 (1). 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences7010005

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Abstract/Summary

Bentonite makes an important contribution to the performance of the engineered barriers in most radioactive waste repository designs. The choice of bentonite results from its favourable properties for waste isolation and its stability in relevant geological environments. However, the longevity of bentonite (especially the resistance to waste container sinking) has been little studied. Modelling results suggest significant bentonite deformation and associated canister sinking is unlikely and, here, long-term natural system data are used as a reality check on model predictions. Results indicate that bentonite from the investigated site shows no significant deviation in bulk physical parameters from repository bentonite. However, micro-scale shear planes can be seen throughout the sampled cores. The presence of multi-directional S- and C-type shears suggests they originate from loading from the overlying limestone, not gravitational tectonics. The plastic limits and angles of shearing resistance for natural and repository bentonites suggest both are susceptible to shearing. The impact of bentonite shear under load could be minimised by appropriate design, but existing lower activity waste container designs do not consider the potentially high external stresses from the bentonite backfill and this should be addressed in future.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences7010005
ISSN: 2076-3263
Date made live: 20 Dec 2017 13:23 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518774

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