Research in Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Waste Program are mostly funded by DOE’s Spent Fuel & Waste Science and Technology (SFWST) Campaign. In support of Campaign’s mission, Berkeley Lab scientists are now leading research and technology development to enable long-term waste disposal in other host-rock environments, such as shale, salt rock, and crystalline rock, and alternative repository designs.
Since 2012, in an effort coordinated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition (SFWD) Campaign has advanced active collaboration with several international geologic disposal programs in Europe and Asia. Such collaboration allows the SFWD Campaign to benefit from a deep knowledge base in regards to alternative repository environments developed over decades, and to utilize international investments in research facilities (such as underground research laboratory testing and modeling), saving millions of R&D dollars that have been and are being provided by other countries.
Shale and argillite geological formations have been considered as potential host rocks for geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) throughout the world because of their low permeability, low diffusion coefficient, high retention capacity for radionuclides, and capability to self-seal fractures.
The objective of LBNL's work in Crystalline Disposal R&D focuses on advancing our understanding of long-term disposal of spent fuel in crystalline rocks and to develop necessary experimental and computational capabilities to evaluate various disposal concepts in such media.
In the context of nuclear waste disposal, rock salt has several favorable features, including near-zero permeability in the undisturbed state, very low porosity, and relative high thermal conductivity as compared to other potential host rock alternatives. Moreover, rock salt creeps under deviatoric stresses and temperature changes, and has the capability to heal fractures under favorable stress state.
The objective of EBS Disposal R&D is to address the technical elements necessary to evaluate EBS design concepts specific to the select host media. Emphasis includes analysis and study of thermal, mechanical, and chemical processes that influence the performance of EBS and developing modeling capability for reliable assessment of these processes and ultimately supporting the Generic Disposal System Analysis (GDSA) model with detailed coupled THMC process models.
The objective of this activity is to develop a methodology and toolsets for integrating complex, coupled models (such as THMC or THC) into the GDSA model for evaluating disposal system performance for nuclear waste. Because the GDSA model is designed for the entire repository with a thousand emplacement tunnels, a systematic methodology is needed on how to simplify some coupled processes/parameters.
Coupled THM numerical modeling is conducted to study thermal management associated with geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) in large dual-purpose canisters (DPCs). DPCs, are containers designed for SNF storage and transportation and if determined to be feasible for permanent geological disposal could provide a cost effective disposal solution....