Cembinder, Eka EXP36, and MEYCO MP320 are three colloidal silica materials that have been proposed for post-excavation grouting of deep tunnels in a radioactive waste repository. In this study, samples of these colloidal silicas were tested for their particle size distribution, gel induction time (tG
), gel time (TG
), and physical erosion, under mildly saline groundwater flow conditions. In order to achieve a desired gel time range, from 15 to 50 min, it is recommended that the colloidal silica is mixed with a NaCl accelerator at a 5:1 volume ratio. At 20 °C, the concentration range for the NaCl solution should be 1.5 to 1.7 M for MEYCO, 1.23 to 1.38 M for Eka EXP36, and 1.3 to 1.47 M for Cembinder. The physical erosion of the set silicas remained steady during a 10 h flow cell experiment, when grouts were subjected to 0.05 M NaCl at a superficial velocity of 2.2 × 10−5
m/s. For these test conditions, the results show that MEYCO has the highest average erosion rate (0.85 mg/h) of the three grout materials, as well as the greatest variability in this rate. Cembinder performed best with the lowest silica removal rate. Extrapolation of the measured erosion rates suggests that grout fracture dilation would not be significant under natural quiescent groundwater flow conditions, but would be high if there was hydraulic communication between the geosphere and the repository.
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