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Deep borehole used fuel disposal

This research area, recently carried out in collaboration with Sandia, has been reinvigorated by favorable mention in the 2012 report of the Presidential Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. It involves permanent sequestration of used LWR fuel, or its high-level reprocessing wastes, in 0.5 m dia., 4 km deep boreholes drilled into granitic bedrock, to take advantage of its highly favorable hydrological and geochemical environment. This technology has many features in common with existing oil/gas/geothermal well drilling. A recent DOE NEUP has supported our work to resolve remaining performance issues. An example improvement has been analytical and numerical calculations, and laboratory simulation, to show that canisters containing used fuel can be loaded into water-filled boreholes by free-fall, leading to significant cost reduction.


  1. E. Bates, J. Buongiorno, E. Baglietto, M.J. Driscoll, “Transient Thermal Modeling of a Deep Borehole Repository,” Trans. Am. Nucl. Soc., Vol. 106, p. 254, Chicago IL, June 2012
  2. A. Salazar, E. Bates, M. Driscoll, “Plugging of Deep boreholes Used for HLW Disposal,” Trans. Am. Nucl. Soc., Vol. 107, pp. 293–294, Nov. 2012
  3. M.J. Driscoll, R.K. Lester, K.G. Jensen, B.W. Arnold, P.N. Swift, P.V. Brady, “Technology and Policy Aspects of Deep Borehole Nuclear Waste Disposal,” Nuclear Technology, Vol. 180, Oct. 2012
  4. E.A. Bates, M.J. Driscoll, J. Buongiorno, “A Drop-in Concept for Deep Borehole Canister Emplacement,” Proceedings of the 2011 International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference, Albuquerque NM, April 2011


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