A Coupled Model for Natural Convection and Condensation in Heated Subsurface Enclosures Embedded in Fractured Rock
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A Coupled Model for Natural Convection and Condensation in Heated Subsurface Enclosures Embedded in Fractured Rock

  • Author(s): Halecky, N.
  • Birkholzer, J.T.
  • Webb, S.W.
  • Peterson, P.F.
  • Bodvarsson, G.S.
  • et al.
Abstract

In heated tunnels such as those designated for emplacement of radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, axial temperature gradients may cause natural convection processes that can significantly influence the moisture conditions in the tunnels and in the surrounding fractured rock. Large-scale convection cells would provide an effective mechanism for axial vapor transport, driving moisture out of the formation away from the heated tunnel section into cool end sections (where no waste is emplaced). To study such processes, we have developed and applied an enhanced version of TOUGH2 (Pruess et al., 1999) adding a new module that solves for natural convection in open cavities. The new TOUGH2 simulator simultaneously handles (1) the flow and energy transport processes in the fractured rock; (2) the flow and energy transport processes in the cavity; and (3) the heat and mass exchange at the rock-cavity interface. The new module is applied to simulate the future thermal-hydrological (TH) conditions within and near a representative waste emplacement tunnel at Yucca Mountain. Particular focus is on the potential for condensation along the emplacement section, a possible result of heat output differences between individual waste packages.

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