Chemical erosion of the bentonite buffer: do we observe it in nature?
Heini M. Reijonen, Nuria Marcos, 2017. "Chemical erosion of the bentonite buffer: do we observe it in nature?", Radioactive Waste Confinement: Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers, S. Norris, J. Bruno, M. van Geet, E. Verhoef
Download citation file:
It is planned to use bentonites as buffer materials in various types of geological repositories designed to host radioactive waste. For the bentonite materials, the hydrological and hydrogeochemical conditions are two of the main environmental factors affecting their evolution, assessed for a period of up to 1 Ma. Since it has been observed in laboratory tests that smectite, in particular montmorillonite, forms colloids and disperses in very dilute conditions, a scenario for chemical erosion has been discussed at length, especially in relation to geological repositories located in future glaciated terrains and locations otherwise potentially hosting dilute groundwaters. General understanding, based on laboratory experiments, is that bentonite erosion does not occur when the total charge equivalent of cations in groundwater is higher than 4 mM. However, based on current knowledge, it seems that chemical erosion is not observed in repository-relevant natural systems where groundwater conditions are below the given limit. Further investigation is therefore suggested to provide a better scientific understanding of the mechanisms involved in stabilizing smectites in these natural systems.
Figures & Tables
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.