Zhixiong Zeng* Yu-Jun Cui† Nathalie Conil‡ Jean Talandier§



Pre-compacted MX80 bentonite/Callovo-Oxfordian (COx) claystone mixture has been considered as a promising sealing/backfilling material in deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste in France.

When the pre-compacted blocks are emplaced in the gallery, technological voids can remain. After the infiltration of groundwater from the host rock, they will swell freely, filling the technological voids, and then undergo further hydration under constant-volume conditions.

From the perspective of the storage safety, it is essential to understand the effects of technological voids and hydration time on the hydro-mechanical behaviour of such pre-compacted blocks. In this work, a series of infiltration tests at various hydration times was carried out on compacted MX80 bentonite/COx claystone mixture with different technological voids.

The evolutions of the swelling pressures in axial and radial directions as well as the hydraulic conductivity were monitored while wetting. After the predetermined hydration times, the dry density, water content and suction at different positions were determined, together with the microstructure investigation using mercury intrusion porosimetry.

It was observed that the soils close to initial voids swelled and filled the initial voids upon contact with water, with significant increases in large-pore and medium-pore void ratios.

From the variation of dry density profile with time, compression and swelling zones could be identified: in the compression zone, the soils corresponding to the initial soils were subjected to compression, with decrease in large-pore and medium-pore void ratios over time, whereas in the swelling zone, the soils with a higher dry density than the expected final one underwent further swelling, with large-pore void ratio increasing until saturation and then a slight decrease due to water redistribution in the soil.

Owing to the soil density heterogeneity, the axial swelling pressure and hydraulic conductivity of samples with voids were slightly larger than those of samples without voids; contrarily, the radial swelling pressure was lower than that of the samples without voids.



expansive soils fabric/structure of soils laboratory tests radioactive waste disposal time dependence