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Virtual lab for nuclear waste repository research
Date:3/13/2014

The nuclear power phaseout in Germany is a done deal and is supposed to be finalized by 2022 at the latest. Where should the radioactive waste produced be put, though? Suitable sites for nuclear waste repositories have to be found as quickly as possible. This is not easy, though since waste is required to be sealed off from the biosphere for one million years. A potential site's real suitability as a nuclear waste repository can only be analyzed once such a repository has been designed, planned and studied together with its equipment modules. Various physical and chemical processes, which are very complex and interact, take place in a nuclear waste repository the rock may be heated by the waste stored and gases may develop. Until now, researchers have studied such processes in underground laboratories such as the ones in Mont Terri in Switzerland or in sp in Sweden as well as in France and Belgium. Time and again, German researchers have to pack their bags and travel to the underground laboratories for their experiments where they test the quality of sealing systems for instance. The period of a study is limited, though, because none of these tests can be conducted for more than a few years.

Laying out and studying deep geological repositories virtually

The most important nuclear waste repository research organizations the Gesellschaft fr Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit GRS, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources BGR and DBE Technology GmbH therefore need to supplement real underground laboratories. They contracted researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg the world's first virtual underground laboratory, VIRTUS. A software platform is the virtual underground laboratory's central component. It realistically represents all of the conditions there, whether the types of rocks in the soil or the physical or chemical processes that take place in a deep geological
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Contact: Dipl.-Ing. Steffen Masik
steffen.masik@iff.fraunhofer.de
49-391-409-0127
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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