The engineering design of disposal of the high level waste (HLW) packages in a geologic repository requires a thermal analysis to provide the temperature history of the packages. Calculated temperatures are used to demonstrate compliance with criteria for waste acceptance into the geologic disposal gallery system and as input to assess the transient thermal characteristics of the vitrified HLW Package. The objective of the work was to evaluate the thermal performance of the supercontainer containing the vitrified HLW in a non-backfilled and unventilated underground disposal gallery. In order to achieve the objective, transient computational models for a geologic vitrified HLW package were developed by using a computational fluid dynamics method, and calculations for the HLW disposal gallery of the current Belgian geological repository reference design were performed. An initial two-dimensional model was used to conduct some parametric sensitivity studies to better understand the geologic system’s thermal response. The effect of heat decay, number of co-disposed supercontainers, domain size, humidity, thermal conductivity and thermal emissivity were studied. Later, a more accurate three-dimensional model was developed by considering the conduction-convection cooling mechanism coupled with radiation, and the effect of the number of supercontainers (3, 4 and 8) was studied in more detail, as well as a bounding case with zero heat flux at both ends. The modeling methodology and results of the sensitivity studies will be presented.

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