Modeling the long-term durability of concrete barriers in the context of low-activity waste storage
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The paper investigates the long-term durability of concrete barriers in contact with a cementitious wasteform designed to immobilize low-activity nuclear waste. The high-pH pore solution of the wasteform contains high concentration level of sulfate, nitrate, nitrite and alkalis. The multilayer concrete/wasteform system was modeled using a multiionic reactive transport model accounting for coupling between species, dissolution/ precipitation reactions, and feedback effect. One of the primary objectives was to investigate the risk associated with the presence of sulfate in the wasteform on the durability of concrete. Simulation results showed that formation of expansive phases, such as gypsum and ettringite, into the concrete barrier was not extensive. Based on those results, it was not possible to conclude that concrete would be severely damaged, even after 5,000 years. Lab work was performed to provide data to validate the modeling results. Paste samples were immersed in sulfate contact solutions and analyzed to measure the impact of the aggressive environment on the material. The results obtained so far tend to confirm the numerical simulations.
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