Researching Opportunities in Shale

Evaluating shales and other fine-grain materials for nuclear-waste disposal potential using numerical models and analytical solutions.

2012 - 2015
South Dakota
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Beginning in July 2012, RESPEC and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology were funded under the Department of Energy Used Fuel Disposition program to investigate nonsite-specific issues associated with potential nuclear-waste disposal in shales and other fine-grained geologic materials. The project included evaluating the extent and composition of shales in the midcontinental region of the US, developing a plan for establishing a shale-hosted underground research laboratory, and conducting preliminary modeling of a typical repository design to assess its feasibility and limitations. Numerical modeling and analytical solutions were used to evaluate the basic design characteristics of a potential repository, the potential for plastic failure in excavations, methods of ground support, the extent of the Excavation Damage Zone, and the potential for fracture healing.