Parametric study of high-level nuclear waste storage in underground hard rock caverns

Altıntaş T. E. , Abduljabar A. A. A. , Yardimci A. G.

27th International Mining Congress and Exhibition (IMCET 2022), Antalya, Turkey, 22 - 25 March 2022, pp.708-717

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.708-717


Rising global energy demand has set nuclear energy as a trending power generation method due
to its production cost and efficiency advantages. Remnants of the reactive process create large amounts
of radioactive waste that pose environmental risks in case of improper management. High-level wastes
are widely isolated by burying into deep geological voids or man-made excavations due to continuous
heat emission for hundreds of years. Although design and excavating large underground caverns is a
part of ordinary Rock Engineering practice, high temperature leads to challenging mechanical problems
due to changing rock mass properties. Unexpected fracture propagation is risky in terms of seepage of
polluted groundwater. Hence, the thermal effect on rock mass geomechanical properties must be
considered for a proper cavern design. This study presents an experimental and numerical work to
assess nuclear waste storage in hard rock caverns. The thermal effect on geomechanical properties of
andesite samples was explored. Parametric studies were performed on Finite Element simulations to
investigate alternative cavern designs. Thermal damage on rock mass has proven to be an effective
mechanism for stability of storage caverns.