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Modelling a heater experiment for radioactive waste disposal

Abstract of the journal article published in Environmental Geotechnics
March 13, 2017

T.S. Nguyen
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Z. Li
Independent geoenvironmental consultant

B. Garitte
National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (Nagra) (Switzerland)

J.D. Barnichon
Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire


This paper presents the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s modelling of coupled thermal, hydraulic and mechanical (THM) processes and their influence on the performance of the engineered barrier system (EBS) and the host rock. The coupled THM processes were monitored during a heater experiment called HE-E, performed in an Opalinus Clay formation at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory in Switzerland. The HE-E experimental setup consisted of two EBS sections emplaced in an existing tunnel of the Underground Rock Laboratory.

This paper focuses on the model development, parametric analysis, model calibration and verification with the field test data. The influence of THM processes on the EBS and host rock performance and the implications on the design and safety assessment of geological disposal repository systems are discussed.

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