Research by a professor at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University has significant applications in determining the long-term safety of storage of nuclear waste, and for civil infrastructure in Canada’s north.
Professor Jit Sharma and colleagues at the University of Manitoba have developed an easy-to-use mathematical model that captures the effect of temperature-dependent soil viscosity observed when straining rates are varied, and when stresses are held constant.
The model has particular importance when planning the storage of nuclear waste. Capsules containing nuclear waste are often shrouded in compacted clays. Heat radiating from the nuclear waste can alter the mechanical behaviour of the clay surrounding the capsule. The model can be used in predicting the long-term deformation of these compacted clay liners.
The model also has significant applications for the design of civil infrastructure in Canada’s northern communities as successively warmer years have resulted in the thawing of permafrost. It allows designers to combine temperature-dependent mechanical behaviour of permafrost with temperature patterns predicted by various climate change scenarios to come up with reliable and effective long-term design of civil infrastructure.
The findings are published in an article titled “Semi-empirical elastic–thermoviscoplastic model for clay” in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal.
Sharma is the inaugural chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. He has held academic appointments in India, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. From 2001 till his arrival at the York University, Sharma was professor of Geotechnical Engineering at University of Saskatchewan, where he taught soil mechanics, foundation engineering and geotechnical modelling at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Sharma’s research interests include critical state soil mechanics, waste mechanics, geosynthetics, ground improvement techniques, soil-structure interaction, unsaturated soil mechanics, centrifuge modelling, and numerical modelling. His research is funded by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), industry, academia, and municipal, provincial and federal government agencies. Sharma is an associate editor of Canadian Geotechnical Journal.