Hydro-mechanical behaviour of bentonite pellet mixtures
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Granular mixtures made of high-density pellets of bentonite are being evaluated as an alternative buffer material for waste isolation. Ease of handling is an often-mentioned advantage. The paper described the experimental program performed to characterize the hydromechanical behaviour of compacted pellet’s mixtures used in the engineered barrier (EB) experiment. The material tested in the laboratory was based in the pellet’s mixtures actually used for the emplacement of the EB in situ experiment. Grain size distribution was adjusted to a maximum pellet size compatible with the specimen’s dimensions. Dry densities of statically compacted specimens varied in most of the cases in the range: 1.3–1.5 Mg/m3. Pellets had a very high dry density, close to 2 Mg/m3. The outstanding characteristic of these mixtures is its discontinuous porosity. Pore sizes of the compacted pellets vary around 10 nm. However the inter-pellet size of the pores is four to five orders of magnitude higher. This double porosity and the highly expansive nature of the pellets controlled all the hydraulic and mechanical properties of the mixture. Tests performed include infiltration tests using different water injection rates and mechanisms of water transfer (in liquid and vapour phases), suction controlled oedometer tests and swelling pressure tests. The interpretation of some of the tests performed required backanalysis procedures using a hydro-mechanical (HM) computer code. Material response was studied within the framework of the elastoplastic constitutive model proposed by Alonso et al. [Alonso, E.E., Gens, A., Josa, A., 1990. A constitutive model for partially saturated soils. Geotechnique 40 (3), 405–430] (Barcelona Basic Model, BBM). Parameters for the model were identified and also a set of hydraulic laws necessary to perform coupled HM analysis.
CitationHoffmann, C.; Alonso, E.E.; Romero, E. Hydro-mechanical behaviour of bentonite pellet mixtures. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth (2007, vo. 32, no. 8-14, pp. 832-849).
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