Optimization of deep boreholes for disposal of high-level nuclear waste
Author(s)Bates, Ethan Allen
Optimization of DBD of high-level nuclear waste
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
Michael J. Driscoll and Emilio Baglietto.
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This work advances the concept of deep borehole disposal (DBD), where spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is isolated at depths of several km in basement rock. Improvements to the engineered components of the DBD concept (e.g., plug, canister, and fill materials) are presented. Reference site parameters and models for radionuclide transport, dose, and cost are developed and coupled to optimize DBD design. A conservative and analytical representation of thermal expansion flow gives vertical velocities of fluids vs. time (and the results are compared against numerical models). When fluid breakthrough occurs rapidly, the chemical transport model is necessary to calculate radionuclide concentrations along the flow path to the surface. The model derived here incorporates conservative assumptions, including instantaneous dissolution of the SNF, high solubility, low sorption, no aquifer or isotopic dilution, and a host rock matrix that is saturated (at a steady state profile) for each radionuclide. For radionuclides that do not decay rapidly, sorb, or reach solubility limitations (e.g., 1-129), molecular diffusion in the host rock (transverse to the flow path) is the primary loss mechanism. The first design basis failure mode (DB 1) assumes the primary flow path is a 1.2 m diameter region with 100x higher permeability than the surrounding rock, while DB2 assumes a 0.1 mm diameter fracture. For the limiting design basis (DB 1), borehole repository design is constrained (via dose limits) by the areal loading of SNF (MTHM/km2 ), which increases linearly with disposal depth. In the final portion of the thesis, total costs (including drilling, site characterization, and emplacement) are minimized ($/kgHM) while borehole depth, disposal zone length, and borehole spacing are varied subject to the performance (maximum dose) constraint. Accounting for a large uncertainty in costs, the optimal design generally lies at the minimum specified disposal depth (assumed to be 1200 in), with disposal zone length of 800-1500 m and borehole spacing of 250-360 meters. Optimized costs range between $45 to $191/kgHM, largely depending on the assumed emplacement method and drilling cost. The best estimate (currently achievable), minimum cost is $134/kgHM, which corresponds to a disposal zone length of -900 meters and borehole spacing of 272 meters.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 223-240).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.