Terrawatch: could granite solve the hard problem of nuclear waste storage?

We need to find somewhere safe to dispose of high-level nuclear waste; a place where we can be confident it will be isolated and contained for hundreds of thousands of years. And if we want to keep a lid on global warming then we may well need to find a similar place to store carbon dioxide too. But where?

X-ray CT image of a 1 cm diameter rock core.

A new study published in Scientific Reports reveals that crystalline rocks, such as granite, have a natural self-sealing mechanism, capable of keeping fluids locked away for millions of years.

Careful analysis of the chemistry and structure of granites from Japan and the UK revealed that when fluid did enter the rock (via fractures), it travelled a few centimetres at most. The scientists believe that calcium in the rock reacted with carbonate in the fluid to create tiny crystals of calcite that plugged all the gaps and prevented further flow. “This amount of calcite would never be expected in a granite, and the distribution of it indicates it almost certainly formed from small quantities of fluid trying to move through the rock,” says Roy Wogelius from the University of Manchester.

Greater understanding is needed before we finalise our radioactive waste disposal strategies, but this is a promising step forward.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Enter Your Information Below To Receive Free Trading Ideas, Latest News, And Articles.

Please Enter Your Email Address:




Your information is secure and your privacy is protected. By opting in you agree to receive emails from us and our affiliates. Remember that you can opt-out any time, we hate spam too!

Latest

Imagine the UK getting rid of road rage, congestion and exhaust fumes for ever | Susanna Rustin

It was a grim irony that the best transport news in ages was buried in the first few days of the coronavirus lockdown. On...

Netflix tumbles after hours as markets dip on China worries

Netflix tumbled after hours last night and US markets dipped following the momentous sell-off in Chinese equities this week. Netflix, which has seen its...

Changes in the schedule for July 23 and 24, 2020 Japan

Dear customers, Due to the holidays in Japan (Sea Day and Sports Day) on July 23 and 24, 2020, the trading schedule for the...

Farmers urge UK government to protect food standards in post-Brexit trade bill

Farmers, environmentalists and consumer groups are pressing the government to honour its manifesto pledge not to undermine food standards with low-quality imports in a...

UK sets out law to curb illegal deforestation and protect rainforests

The government has announced plans to introduce a new law to clamp down on illegal deforestation and protect rainforests by cleaning up the UK's...