Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Deep Boreholes for Storage of Spent Reactor Fuel and Use of the Heated Rock for Production of Electric Energy or hot fluid for heating purposes

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  • Abstract


    Lack of energy is a serious threat to the prosperity of many developed states that have access to or plan to use nuclear power. The paper describes a concept for solving two major problems related to these conditions, namely safe disposal of spent reactor fuel and generation of electric energy or hot fluid by use of heat produced by the disposed waste. The challenge in storing spent nuclear fuel can be met with by installing such highly radioactive waste in deep boreholes with fuel rods encapsulated in canisters of copper-lined iron or titanium. Electric energy can be generated by utilizing the accumulated heat in the same rock mass by pumping up hot water or clayey mud from series of deep holes bored parallel and between corresponding holes with nuclear waste. The amounts of heat in each of the hot-water holes overlap and raise the initial rock temperature at 1,500-3,000 m depth to about 80-90oC after some 50 years and to 70-80oC in 500 years, after which the temperature in the hot-fluid holes goes down successively to the initial value 60-70oC in about 500 years. If these holes are subsequently deepened from 3,000 to 5,000 meters, utilization of the hot fluid can continue for another 500 years.

    Keywords: Deep boreholes, highly radioactive waste, high level radioactive waste (HLW), spent reactor fuel, smectite, clays.