In-depth characterisation of a mixture composed of powder/pellets MX80 bentonite

Abstract : Mixtures made up of bentonite powder and pellets are a possible candidate for making sealing plugs used in deep radioactive waste disposal due to their low permeability, high swelling capacity, favourable properties with respect to radionuclide retention and operational advantages in terms of placement in situ, which is much easier than that of pre-compacted bricks of bentonite/sand mixture. It is therefore essential to better understand their hydro-mechanical behaviour to optimize the design of the repository. In this context, the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) has launched the SEALEX project (SEALing performance EXperiments) in which this work has been conducted. Once the initially heterogeneous unsaturated powder/pellet (80/20) MX80 bentonite mixture is put in place, these sealing materials will be subject to coupled hydro-mechanical loadings: hydration due to the infiltration of pore water from the natural barrier and mechanical confinement resulting from the engineered barriers. The present work focuses on the different scales of the material: at the macroscopic scale, it is characterised by a heterogeneous distribution of pellets and powder of bentonite; at the microscopic scale, it is studied by several techniques (MIP, μ-CT observations and SEM). From MIP results, a typical bimodal distribution was found for both pellet and powder. From μ-CT and SEM observations, a heterogeneity was revealed in the internal structure of the pellet: heterogeneous density distribution of the clay minerals and presence of several high density elements.
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Applied Clay Science, Elsevier, 2017, 135, pp.538-546. 〈10.1016/j.clay.2016.10.030〉
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Agustin Molinero Guerra, Mokni Nadia, Pierre Delage, Yu-Jun Cui, Anh Minh Tang, et al.. In-depth characterisation of a mixture composed of powder/pellets MX80 bentonite. Applied Clay Science, Elsevier, 2017, 135, pp.538-546. 〈10.1016/j.clay.2016.10.030〉. 〈hal-01515960〉

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