2014-02-01: Project Update

The vision of the leading radioactive waste management organisations (WMO) in Europe is that by 2025, the first geological disposal facilities for spent fuel, high-level waste, and other long-lived radioactive waste will be operating safely in Europe. To achieve this goal EURATOM, leading WMO’s and leading research institutes are cooperating and creating the necessary scientific foundation for these repositories.

The WMOs from Finland, France, Sweden and Switzerland have joined as part of the 'Large Underground COncept EXperiments' (LUCOEX) project, funded by the EU to share experience and the challenges as they do the Proof-of-concept-installations for their respective repository concepts. These Proof-Of-Concept installations are an important part of the successive step vice development of these repositories where the goal for Lucoex is to demonstrate the technical feasibility for a safe and reliable Construction, Manufacturing, Disposal and Sealing of repositories for long-lived high-level nuclear waste.

Upon completion of these experiments and prototype installations LUCOEX will both have developed information and knowledge necessary for the detailed design of the repositories and shown the feasibility in practice.

The project has now come to a point where two of the proof-of-concept installations are finalized while we are actively preparing the final two proof-of-concept installations planned for 2014.

KBS-3H and the MPT-test at Äspö

In Sweden we have successfully:

  • Created and instrumented a disposal drift
  • Upgraded the installation machinery
  • Designed the necessary machine components for the buffer manufacturing and produced the necessary buffer components
  • Assembled and installed all the components using the artificial wetting process DAVE

Finally we have initiated a full scale buffer swelling test that will be evaluated long after the finalization of the LUCOEX-project to study how the buffer evolves within the disposal drift.

ALC experiment in Bure

In France we have successfully:

  • Performed the full scale cell excavation according to the French concept
  • Designed the instrumentation and heaters (simulating the waste canisters)
  • Completed compatibility testing between casing, instrumentation, heaters to develop the installation methods
  • Installed the instrumentation on the casing and of heaters
  • Initiated the heating phase marking the end of the LUCOEX project

The next goal is to simulate the heat induced by exothermic waste packages, with the goal to reach 90°C at the rock/casing interface in about 2 years. Monitoring is now on-going and the first results has been presented.

FE-experiment in Mont Terri

In Switzerland we have successfully:

  • Performed the exca¬vation of the experimental tunnel with a diameter of approx. 3 meters and a length of 50 meters according to the Swiss SF/HLW disposal concept
  • Taken the next step in the optimization of the bentonite buffer material production
  • Performed the instrumentation of the rock in the ‘far-field’
  • Designed and manufactured necessary machinery for the installation process

The next step will be the instrumentation of the rock in the ‘near-field’ after which we will install the three heaters within the tunnel and backfill the tunnel with an optimized bentonite granulate mixture. Finally the FE tunnel will be sealed off with a low pH concrete plug and heating will be initiated by the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.

WP 5 – KBS-3V emplacement tests in ONKALO

In Finland we have successfully:

  • Updated the technique for emplacement and installation to ensure installation accuracy and the protection of the bentonite buffer blocks
  • Designed and manufactured installation machinery and transportation containers for buffer components
  • Creation of a test site above- and underground

The next step will be the final testing of the installation machinery and performance of the above- and underground tests of the developed equipment, development of equipment for controlling the installation quality, as well the concepts, methods and tools for problem handling.


In parallel we are working with four primary dissemination activities:

  • The scholarship program where the goal is to execute a total of 20 scholarships for the complete project (13 remaining from previous periods)
  • Planning the final theme workshop (May 2014) with the focus on Installation, Closure and Initial state
  • Planning the final International Lucoex Workshop (March/April 2015)
  • Disseminating the findings of the project at appropriate conferences and forums.

Technical achievements are documented in the project deliverables available on the project Homepage: www.lucoex.eu.