Thermal Properties of the Cobourg Limestone
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The underground storage of used nuclear fuel in Deep Geologic Repositories (DGRs) has been a subject of research in Canada for decades. One important technical aspect of repository design is the accommodation of the mechanical impacts of thermal inputs (heating) from the fuel as it goes through the remainder of its life cycle. Placement room spacing, a major factor in project cost, will be determined by the ability of the host rock to dissipate heat. The thermal conductivity and linear thermal expansion will determine the evolution of the temperature and thermally-induced stress fields. Thermal processes must be well understood to design a successful DGR. This thesis examines the thermal properties of rocks, how they are influenced by factors such as temperature, pressure, mineralogy, porosity, and saturation; and common methods for calculating and/or measuring these properties. A brief overview of thermal and thermally-coupled processes in the context of DGRs demonstrates the degree to which they would impact design, construction, and operation of these critical structures. Several case histories of major in situ heating experiments are reviewed to determine how the lessons learned could be applied to a Canadian Underground Demonstration Facility (UDF). A mineralogy investigation using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) examines samples of the Cobourg Limestone from the Bowmanville and Bruce sites, and demonstrates geographical variability within the Cobourg Formation. The thermal properties of samples from the Bowmanville site are determined. A divided bar apparatus was constructed and used to measure thermal conductivity. The temperature measurement component of the divided bar apparatus was used to measure linear thermal expansion. Finally, the past investigations into the thermal impact of a DGR are reviewed, and the implications of the laboratory testing results on similar analyses are discussed.
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