The Deep Geological Repository (DGR) is currently the most accepted management option for the isolation of high level radioactive wastes. The DGR is based on a multibarrier system, which will limit releases of mobile radionuclides to the biosphere. In the design of the repository the spent fuel is encapsulated in canisters of carbon-steel. The space between the canister and the host geological formation will be filled with bentonite buffer clay. Under the prevailing conditions in a DGR, both localized and generalized corrosion phenomena are possible.
Corrosion of the canister will result in formation of solid and gaseous corrosion products, which can influence the behaviour of both the canister and the bentonite. Many studies have been carried out in order to improve the knowledge on the reactivity of these barriers. Most of them have focused on the mineralogical alteration of the bentonite as a function of temperature, time, iron/clay and liquid/rock ratio in batch conditions. The aim of this study is to provide experimental evidences, at repository conditions, on chemical and mineralogical changes during the canister-compacted bentonite interaction: determination of secondary minerals and their alteration reactions, the advance of the corrosion front in the compacted bentonite, and changes in porosity, permeability and cation exchange capacity.