(GRS-751) KOMPASS-II Compaction of Crushed Salt for Safe Containment – Phase 2

L. Friedenberg, O. Czaikowski, K. Jantschik, A. Pogalski, BGE-TEC, BGR, IfG, Sandia, TUC, UU

Contract No. 02E11951A, 02E11951B, 02E11951C and 02E11951D

Long-term stable sealing elements are a basic component in the safety concept for a possible repository for heat-emitting radioactive waste in rock salt. The sealing elements will be part of the closure concept for drifts and shafts. They will be made from a well-definied crushed salt in employ a specific manufacturing process. The use of crushed salt as geotechnical barrier as required by the German Site Selection Act from 2017 /STA 17/ represents a paradigm change in the safety function of crushed salt, since this material was formerly only considered as stabilizing backfill for the host rock. The demonstration of the long-term stability and impermeability of crushed salt is crucial for its use as a geotechnical barrier.

The KOMPASS-II project, is a follow-up of the KOMPASS-I project and continues the work with focus on improving the understanding of the thermal-hydraulic- mechanical (THM) coupled processes in crushed salt compaction with the objective to enhance the scientific competence for using crushed salt for the long-term isolation of high-level nuclear waste within rock salt repositories. The project strives for an adequate characterization of the compaction process and the essential influencing parameters, as well as a robust and reliable long-term prognosis using validated constitutive models.

For this purpose, experimental studies on long-term compaction tests are combined with microstructural investigations and numerical modeling. The long-term compaction tests in this project focused on the effect of mean stress, deviatoric stress and temperature on the compaction behavior of crushed salt. A laboratory benchmark was performed identifying a variability in compaction behavior. Microstructural investigations were executed with the objective to characterize the influence of pre-compaction procedure, humidity content and grain size/grain size distribution on the overall compaction process of crushed salt with respect to the deformation mechanisms. The created database was used for benchmark calculations aiming for improvement and optimization of a large number of constitutive models available for crushed salt. The models were calibrated, and the improvement process was made visible applying the virtual demonstrator.