Energy Resources

Nuclear Energy and Waste

The role of the Nuclear Energy and Waste Program is to perform fundamental and applied Earth-sciences-related research concerning the safe, secure, and responsible use of nuclear energy, as well as the safe storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel and waste.

Highlights

Project

DECOVALEX

The DECOVALEX (Development of Coupled Models and their Validation against Experiments) Project is a unique international research collaboration for advancing the understanding and mathematical modeling of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) and thermo-hydro-chemical (THC) processes in geological systems.

Project

Fukushima: JAEA-LBNL Collaboration on Repository Geoscience and Technology Development

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan in 2011, LBNL-EESA and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have collaborated to develop numerical methodologies for understanding and predicting the long-term transport of radionuclides within and among different surface-environmental compartments (farmland and forest soils, water bodies, soil pore water and groundwater systems) in Japan. This research, initiated in June 2014, also contributes to the R&D activities related to environmental remediation and decommissioning after the accident.

Project

Used Fuel Disposition

The Used Fuel Disposition (UFD) Campaign was initiated in 2009 to support the Blue Ribbon Panel review of high-level nuclear waste policy in the United States. Our work is organized in the these areas: Natural Systems Research, Engineered Barrier Research, System-Level Modeling, and International Activities within UFD.

Program Overview

The role of the Nuclear Energy and Waste Program is to perform fundamental and applied Earth-sciences-related research concerning the safe, secure, and responsible use of nuclear energy, as well as the safe storage and disposal of used nuclear fuel and waste. Research in this program is primarily associated with the need for secure long-term subsurface disposal of high-level radioactive waste. After being a key contributor to the research and licensing activities for the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, the program is now conducting research and technology development to enable long-term disposal of used nuclear fuel and wastes in other host-rock environments (e.g., shale, salt rock, crystalline rock). Examples of research foci include the near-field rock damage and potential transport pathways induced by repository construction and waste emplacement, the impact of such damage on radionuclide transport in different components of engineered barrier, and long-term performance assessment studies on the suitability of alternative repository locations and designs. Advanced methods for monitoring and simulating relevant coupled processes are tested against data from large in situ experiments conducted in subsurface field observatories.

Beyond disposal research, Nuclear Energy and Waste Program researchers engage in the seismic analysis and structural design of nuclear power plants. More rigorous and realistic seismic simulation tools are developed for increased efficiency and safety, using modern solution algorithms and high-performance computing.

The Nuclear Energy and Waste Program is one of four within Earth and Environmental Sciences Area’s Energy Resources Program Area and is largely supported by DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with additional funding coming from a variety of domestic and international sponsors. Many activities reside within DOE’s Used Fuel Disposition Campaign which was established in 2009. This program also supports disposal work undertaken by several international nuclear waste organizations, and is engaged in collaborative international initiatives such as the DECOVALEX project and the Mont Terri Partnership and has led the development of the Worldwide Review publications.

Featured Projects

Project

Colloid Formation and Migration Project

The Colloid Formation and Migration (CFM) Project is an international research project for the investigation of colloid formation/bentonite erosion, colloid migration, and colloid-associated radionuclide transport, relevant to both NBS and EBS areas of UFDC. This collaborative project is one of several experimental R&D projects associated with the Grimsel Test Site (GTS) in the Swiss Alps, a URL…

Project

DECOVALEX

The DECOVALEX (Development of Coupled Models and their Validation against Experiments) Project is a unique international research collaboration for advancing the understanding and mathematical modeling of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) and thermo-hydro-chemical (THC) processes in geological systems.

Project

Fukushima: JAEA-LBNL Collaboration on Repository Geoscience and Technology Development

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan in 2011, LBNL-EESA and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have collaborated to develop numerical methodologies for understanding and predicting the long-term transport of radionuclides within and among different surface-environmental compartments (farmland and forest soils, water bodies, soil pore water and groundwater systems) in Japan. This research, initiated in June 2014, also contributes to the R&D activities related to environmental remediation and decommissioning after the accident.

Project

Ground-Motion Analysis and Soil-Structure-Interaction (SSI) Modeling

LBNL-ESD researchers are currently supporting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's need for further technical information about a set of related technical topics. The main objective of the project is to develop the technical basis for new NRC staff guidance to applicants and licensees on critical issues related to the seismic analysis and design of new nuclear power plants (NPPs), in the broad area of time-domain soil-structure-interaction (SSI) modeling.

Project

IAEA Cooperative Research

In August 2006, as part of an IAEA Cooperative Research Project, ESD conducted a week-long modeling training course focusing specifically on the ESD-developed TOUGH simulation software codes

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Project

International Disposal R&D

Nuclear power is used by many countries that have employed various strategies for the safe and effective use of nuclear energy and disposal of nuclear waste. International Projects focuses on integration and dissemination of scientific understanding and technological advances associated with nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal throughout the world.

Project

Mont Terri

Mont Terri The Mont Terri Project is an international research project for the hydrogeological, geochemical and geotechnical characterization of a clay/shale formation suitable for geologic disposal of radioactive waste (Zuidema, 2007; Bossart and Thury, 2007). The project, which was officially initiated in 1996, utilizes an underground rock laboratory, which lies north of the town of St-Ursanne in…

Project

The Science and Technology Program

This program was distinct from, but parallel to, the licensing effort at Yucca Mountain. The role of S&T was to advance technologies not previously considered, to identify new or substantially revised scientific methods or tools, thus providing a better understanding of the repository environment. The S&T program goals were to reduce cost, reduce uncertainty, enhance performance, develop new technologies, and overall greatly enhance the repository system, its performance, and its defensibility during and beyond the License Application defense.

Project

Used Fuel Disposition

The Used Fuel Disposition (UFD) Campaign was initiated in 2009 to support the Blue Ribbon Panel review of high-level nuclear waste policy in the United States. Our work is organized in the these areas: Natural Systems Research, Engineered Barrier Research, System-Level Modeling, and International Activities within UFD.

Project

Waste-Form-Degradation Modeling

A long-standing problem in the analysis of nuclear waste glass degradation (or corrosion) rates is the short-term time scales associated with laboratory studies. One approach to this problem has been to study archaeological glasses, particularly where the environment within which they existed can be well constrained over time. In this study, concluded in 2014, we made use of a micro-continuum modeling approach to capture the spatial distribution and identity of reaction products developing over time as a result of the archaeological glass corrosion, while also matching the time scales of alteration where possible. Importantly for future studies, our model captured the approximate mineralogical zoning, as well as the identity of the newly formed secondary phase smectite.