Alteration of MX-80 bentonite backfill material by high-pH cementitious fluids under lithostatic conditions – an experimental approach using core infiltration techniques
F. Dolder, U. Mäder, A. Jenni, B. Münch, 2017. "Alteration of MX-80 bentonite backfill material by high-pH cementitious fluids under lithostatic conditions – an experimental approach using core infiltration techniques", Radioactive Waste Confinement: Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers, S. Norris, J. Bruno, M. van Geet, E. Verhoef
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We characterize and quantify processes at a cement–bentonite interface spatially and temporally during a long-term core infiltration experiment.
A young ordinary Portland cement pore fluid (K+–Na+–OH−: pH 13.4) was infiltrated into a MX-80 bentonite core with an initial saturated density of 1920 kg m−3 that shifted to 1890–1930 kg m−3 after 761 days. A hydrostatic external pressure of 4.1 MPa and an infiltration pressure of 2.1 MPa were applied in a triaxial-type apparatus. A decrease in hydraulic conductivity from approximately 2.2×10−13 to approximately 4.2×10−15 m s−1 was observed passing from advection-dominated flow to a diffusion-dominated regime. Sulphate replaced chloride in the outflow during the high-pH infiltration period controlled by the dissolution of gypsum, the uptake of K+ by ion exchange, and complex mineral reactions occurred near the inlet. X-ray computed tomography (CT) scans performed repeatedly during the experiment tracked a progressing hemispherical reaction plume in the first millimetres of the bentonite, revealing a zone of bulk density increase. This zone consisted of two distinct, but overlapping, zones of Mg- and Ca-enrichment related to precipitation of saponite and calcite. The experiment attested an effective chemical buffering capacity for bentonite, a progressing coupled hydraulic–chemical sealing process and also the preservation of the physical integrity of the interface region in this set-up with a total pressure boundary condition on the core sample.
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It is internationally accepted that the safest and most sustainable option for managing radioactive waste is geological disposal, utilizing both engineering and geology to isolate the waste and contain the radioactivity.
This Special Publication contains 25 scientific studies presented at the 6th conference on ‘Clays in natural and engineered barriers for radioactive waste confinement’ held in Brussels, Belgium in 2015. The conference and this resulting volume cover many of the aspects of clay characterization and behaviour considered at various temporal and spatial scales relevant to the confinement of radionuclides in clay, from basic phenomenological process descriptions to the global understanding of performance and safety at repository and geological scales.
The papers in this volume consider research into argillaceous media under the following topic areas: large-scale geological characterization; general strategy for clay-based disposal systems; geomechanics; mass transfer; bentonite evolution and gas transfer.
The collection of different topics presented in this Special Publication demonstrates the diversity of geological repository research.