New research will study long-term stability of used nuclear fuel containers

Lassonde School of Engineering Assistant Professor Magdalena Krol from the Department of Civil Engineering, has received funding from the Ontario Research Fund to study the long-term stability of used nuclear fuel containers for deep underground repositories.

Magdalena Krol

The $4-million grant has been awarded to Western University (lead), York University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto. It builds on funding that is in place from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The project is a multidisciplinary initiative involving researchers from various departments across the four Ontario universities and aims to enhance the understanding of the physical and chemical interactions of used fuel containers with the deep underground.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the project will enable a deeper understanding of the complex interactions taking place in the repository over hundreds of thousands of years. Beyond that, this project will provide invaluable training for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students,” said Krol.

This project will provide important information for Canada’s plan to store used nuclear fuel in deep repositories and enhance confidence in the safety and design of the canisters. The objective of the five-year project is to examine the interactions of the containers with groundwater, the subsurface, corrosion species and micro-organisms.

Known for her work in contaminant hydrogeology, Krol is one of the project’s principal investigators. They will study the transport of corrosive agents through the subsurface under various repository conditions. This work will be done using laboratory experiments, housed in facilities located in the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, and through  computer simulations.

In addition to Krol, there are nine academic researchers involved with the project bringing a diverse range of expertise in fields like metallurgy, electrochemistry, corrosion science, thermodynamics, hydrogeology, mineralogy, microbiology, synthetic chemistry and computer modelling.