Modeling of coupled heat transfer and reactive transport processesin porous media: Application to seepage studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada

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When hot radioactive waste is placed in subsurface tunnels, a series of complex changes occurs in the surrounding medium. The water in the pore space of the medium undergoes vaporization and boiling. Subsequently, vapor migrates out of the matrix pore space, moving away from the tunnel through the permeable fracture network. This migration is propelled by buoyancy, by the increased vapor pressure caused by heating and boiling, and through local convection. In cooler regions, the vapor condenses on fracture walls, where it drains through the fracture network. Slow imbibition of water thereafter leads to gradual rewetting of the rock matrix. ... continued below

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Mukhopadhyay, Sumit; Sonnenthal, Eric L. & Spycher, Nicolas January 15, 2007.

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When hot radioactive waste is placed in subsurface tunnels, a series of complex changes occurs in the surrounding medium. The water in the pore space of the medium undergoes vaporization and boiling. Subsequently, vapor migrates out of the matrix pore space, moving away from the tunnel through the permeable fracture network. This migration is propelled by buoyancy, by the increased vapor pressure caused by heating and boiling, and through local convection. In cooler regions, the vapor condenses on fracture walls, where it drains through the fracture network. Slow imbibition of water thereafter leads to gradual rewetting of the rock matrix. These thermal and hydrological processes also bring about chemical changes in the medium. Amorphous silica precipitates from boiling and evaporation, and calcite from heating and CO2 volatilization. The precipitation of amorphous silica, and to a much lesser extent calcite, results in long-term permeability reduction. Evaporative concentration also results in the precipitation of gypsum (or anhydrite), halite, fluorite and other salts. These evaporative minerals eventually redissolve after the boiling period is over, however, their precipitation results in a significant temporary decrease in permeability. Reduction of permeability is also associated with changes in fracture capillary characteristics. In short, the coupled thermal-hydrological-chemical (THC) processes dynamically alter the hydrological properties of the rock. A model based on the TOUGHREACT reactive transport software is presented here to investigate the impact of THC processes on flow near an emplacement tunnel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. We show how transient changes in hydrological properties caused by THC processes often lead to local flow channeling and saturation increases above the tunnel. For models that include only permeability changes to fractures, such local flow channeling may lead to seepage relative to models where THC effects are ignored. However, coupled THC seepage models that include both permeability and capillary changes to fractures may not show this additional seepage.

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  • Second International Conference on Porous Mediaand its Applications in Science, Engineering, and Iindustry, Kauai,Hawaii, 02/01/2007

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  • Report No.: LBNL--63459-Conf.
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 932983
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc896064

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • January 15, 2007

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Sept. 30, 2016, 12:24 p.m.

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Mukhopadhyay, Sumit; Sonnenthal, Eric L. & Spycher, Nicolas. Modeling of coupled heat transfer and reactive transport processesin porous media: Application to seepage studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, article, January 15, 2007; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc896064/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.