Abstract

Many projects of underground repositories for high level radioactive waste involve an engineered clay barrier, placed between the waste canister and the surrounding rock. When hydrated, this barrier seals the gap and provides a good watertightness. The natural clay powder, dried and compacted, exhibits hydromechanical couplings during the hydration. Such a coupled behaviour, interesting for the industrial application, has been clearly demonstrated by many studies and laboratory experiments. But the modelling of this behaviour, in order to predict the hydration of the clay barrier, is difficult. A coupled modelling, based, at a macroscopic scale, on the thermodynamics of unsaturated porous media, is proposed. This thermodynamical model forms a general framework for non linear poro-elastic and poro-elasto-plastic coupled behaviours. The symmetries of this coupling, induced by this thermodynamical framework, let us take into account the often neglected influence of the mechanical state on the hydraulic problem of the resaturation of the clay. The complete resolution of the flow problem, coupled with the mechanical behaviour, leads us to study the influence of the rheological behaviour chosen for the clay (elastic-linear or non linear-, or elastoplastic) on the evaluation of the duration of the resaturation of the clay barrier.

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