OR/18/049 Summary

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Tamayo-Mas, E, Harrington, J F, Brüning, T, Kolditz, O, Shao, H, Dagher, E E, Lee, J, Kim, K, Rutqvist, J, Lai, S H, Chittenden, N, Wang, Y, Damians, I P, Olivella, S. 2018. DECOVALEX-2019 project: Task A - modElliNg Gas INjection ExpERiments (ENGINEER). Nottingham, UK, British geological Survey. (OR/18/049).

In a repository for radioactive waste hosted in a clay formation, hydrogen and other gases may be generated due to the corrosion of metallic materials under anoxic conditions, the radioactive decay of waste and the radiolysis of water. If the gas production rate exceeds the gas diffusion rate within the pores of the clay, a discrete gas phase will form and accumulate until its pressure becomes large enough to exceed the entry pressure of the surrounding material.

The purpose of Task A under DECOVALEX-2019 is to better understand the processes governing the advective movement of gas in both low-permeability argillaceous repository host rocks and clay-based engineered barriers. Special attention is given to the mechanisms controlling gas entry, flow and pathway sealing and their impact on the performance of the engineered clay barrier. Previous work suggests gas flow may be accompanied by the creation of dilatant pathways whose properties change temporally and spatially within the medium. Thus, new numerical representations for the quantitative prediction of gas migration fluxes through argillaceous rock formations have been developed. These provide an invaluable tool with which to assess the impact of gas flow on repository layout and therefore design of any future facility. In addition, experience gained through this task is of direct relevance to other clay-based engineering issues where immiscible gas flow is a consideration including shale gas, hydrocarbon migration, carbon capture and storage and landfill design.

Task A is organised into four steps, starting with the code development (stage 0) and followed by the modelling of a 1D gas flow test (stage 1) and a spherical gas flow test (stage 2). Then, the previous models are applied to a natural argillaceous material (stage 3).

This report summarises the outcomes of work in Task A (stages 0 and 1) with work conducted from May 2016 to March 2018 and provides a brief overview of the experimental data, the current task structure and a synthesis of the ongoing work of the participating modelling teams as of March 2018.