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Open Access Experimental investigations of piping phenomena in bentonite-based buffer materials for an HLW repository

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During the installation of the buffer in a deposition hole of an HLW repository, it is necessary to control water flow from the fractured rock into the deposition hole. Water flow with inflow rate greater than 0.001 l/min may cause piping and erosion of the buffer, and may trigger mass redistribution of the buffer, sedimentation and material separation of bentonite materials. This paper describes the condition of parameters which cause piping and erosion; revised conditions which keep advection, inflow rate, buffer component, gap between buffer materials, gap between outside wall and buffer block, and type of water. The results from the experiment show the condition of the self-sealing function of bentonite materials, formation of piping, allowable limit of inflow rate in the case of an Na type bentonite block of 70 wt.% Kunigel V1 and 30 wt.% silica sand, or a pellet of 100 wt.% Kunigel V1. Piping and erosion continue until the engineered barrier (EB) is filled with water, and then the hydraulic gradient becomes small. Piping may lead to erosion and redistribution of material which needs to be taken into account in the long-term performance assessment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2013

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