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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Estimation of stress and stress-induced permeability change in a geological nuclear waste repository in a thermo-hydrologically coupled simulation

  • Author(s): Sasaki, T
  • Rutqvist, J
  • et al.

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Geologic disposal is a promising solution for a safe permanent isolation of accumulated high-level nuclear waste from nuclear powerplants. The behavior of host rock is highly coupled thermally, hydromechanically, and chemically. Numerical simulations of such coupled phenomena for the extremely long term (>100,000 years) and large length scale (>1 km) of geologic disposal remain to be computationally challenging. In this study, a methodology has been developed to approximate stress and stress-induced permeability change in host rock using only thermo-hydrological (TH) variables. A coupled thermo-hydromechanical (THM) simulation is carried out using TOUGH-FLAC simulator to model THM behaviors of a generic nuclear waste repository, in order to evaluate the performance of the developed methodology, which is implemented in a coupled TH simulation. Results show that stress and permeability change estimated by the developed methodology in the TH-coupled simulation match those calculated in the THM-coupled simulation over the simulated timeframe of over 10,000 years. Details about errors in stress and permeability estimates accrued by the developed methodology are discussed in this paper. The developed methodology will help incorporate stress-induced permeability change into existing TH simulators for the long-term radionuclide transport in geologic disposal.

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