Establishing the Concept of Buffer for a High-level Radioactive Waste Repository: An Approach Lee, Jae Owan; Lee, Minsoo; Choi, Heuijoo;
The buffer is a key component of the engineered barrier system in a high-level radioactive waste (HLW) repository. The present study reviewed the requirements and functional criteria of the buffer reported in literature, and also based on the results, proposed an approach to establish a buffer concept which is applicable to an HLW repository in Korea. The hydraulic conductivity, radionuclide-retarding capacity (equilibrium distribution coefficient and diffusion coefficient), swelling pressure, thermal conductivity, mechanical properties, organic carbon content, and illitization rate were considered as major technical parameters for the functional criteria of the buffer. Domestic bentonite (Ca-bentonite) and, as an alternative, MX-80 (Na-bentonite) were proposed for the buffer of an HLW repository in Korea. The technical specifications for those proposed bentonites were set to parameter values that conservatively satisfy Korea's functional criteria for the Ca-bentonite and Swedish criteria for the Na-bentonite. The thickness of the buffer was determined by evaluating the means of shear behavior, radionuclide release, and heat conduction, which resulted in the proper buffer thickness of 0.25 to 0.5 m. However, the final thickness of the buffer should be determined by considering coupled thermal-hydraulic-mechanical evaluation and economics and engineering aspects as well.