Comparative modelling of laboratory experiments for the hydro-mechanical behaviour of a compacted bentonite–sand mixture

Abstract of the journal article published in the Environmental Earth Sciences
October 18, 2016

T. S. Nguyen
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
A. Millard ,N. Mokni, J. D. Barnichon, K. E. Thatcher, A. E. Bond, A. Fraser-Harris, C. Mc Dermott, R. Blaheta, Z. Michalec, M. Hasal, O. Nasir, R. Fedors, H. Yi, O. Kolditz


The CNSC participated in a comparative mathematical modelling project on the hydro-mechanical behaviour of bentonite-based sealing systems for deep geological repositories (DGRs) for radioactive wastes. Several independent research teams participated in the project using data from laboratory experiments carried out in the framework of a French research program called SEALEX conducted by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN). The program focuses on the long-term performance of swelling clay-based sealing systems that provide an important contribution to the safety of DGRs. Improved understanding of the full set of hydro mechanical processes affecting the behaviour of an in situ sealing system requires both experiments ranging from small-scale laboratory tests to full-scale field emplacement studies, and coupled hydro-mechanical models that are able to explain the observations in the experiments. A number of independent teams have performed modelling of these experiments using different conceptual models, codes and input parameters. Their results, for the small-scale laboratory tests, are compared and discussed in the present paper. The modelling of the large-scale tests is the subject of a companion paper. Improved understanding of the bentonite-based seals behaviour has been gained, in particular regarding the effects of dry density on the hydro-mechanical processes and the importance of technological voids on the short-term behaviour of the sealing system.

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