Gases can potentially generate in a deep geological repository (DGR) for the long-term containment of radioactive waste. Natural and engineered barriers provide containment of the waste by mitigating contaminant migration. However, if gas pressures exceed the mechanical strength of these barriers, preferential flow pathways for both the gases and the porewater could form, providing a source of potential exposure to people and the environment. Expansive soils, such as bentonite-based materials, are widely considered as sealing materials. Understanding the long-term performance of these seals as barriers against gas migration is an important component in the design and the long-term safety assessment of a DGR. This study proposes a hydro-mechanical mathematical model for migration of gas through a low-permeable swelling geomaterial based on the theoretical framework of poromechanics. Using the finite element method, the model is used to simulate 1D flow through a confined cylindrical sample of near-saturated low-permeable soil under a constant volume boundary stress condition. The study expands upon previous work by the authors by assessing the influence of heterogeneity, the Klinkenberg “slip flow” effect, and a swelling stress on flow behavior. Based on the results, this study provides fundamental insight into a number of factors that may influence two-phase flow.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited