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Direct Observation of Waterglass Impregnation of Fractured Salt Rock with Positron Emission Tomography

Bittner, L.; Kulenkampff, J.; Gründig, M.; Lippmann-Pipke, J.; Enzmann, F.

Abstract

Sealing with waterglass is one option of technical improvement of the geological barrier. The process of injection is rather involved, because it depends on the kinetics of reaction of the injected waterglass with salt and brines, on the nature of the fractures and the injection velocity. Generally, up to now only the final result of this impregnation could be tested with injection tests and tomographic methods.
We already applied PET process monitoring as laboratory method in a large number of studies of conservative and reactive flow, as well as diffusion experiments, in different geological materials. PET enables to observe the propagation of radiolabelled substances with ultimate sensitivity and with a reasonable spatial resolution of 1 mm. We now developed a method to observe the process of waterglass impregnation into salt rock with PET. Labelling of waterglass is possible by simply adding a small portion of [18F]KF solution, with an activity of around 100 MBq. During the injection of the labelled waterglass into the salt rock we acquire a sequence of PET scans which yield a sequence of the spatial activity distribution in the sample. The activity per voxel is proportional to the volume fraction of waterglass.
The method was tested on small volumes of salt grit and a drill core, which was previously damaged with a geomechanical test and characterized with CT-imaging. These first examples were conducted at a low entry pressure, which limited the achievable depth of penetration and thus the achieved permeability reduction. However, PET-monitoring of the flow process before and after the waterglass injection showed significant alterations of the flow field.
Generally, this method is applicable also with other impregnation agents and matrices. Our approach, where we combine numerical process simulation based on CT-imaging with direct experimental process observation with PET is suited to improve fundamental process understanding and to verify the underlying assumptions and model codes.

Keywords: PET; pet; reactive transport; tracer; flow experiments; geological barrier; nuclear waste disposal

  • Lecture (Conference)
    International Conference on the Performance of Engineered Barriers: Backfill, Plugs & Seals, 06.-07.02.2014, Hannover, Deutschland

Permalink: https://www.hzdr.de/publications/Publ-19635