Abowerbung

Glück auf!

The withdrawal from coal mining and the phasing out of nuclear energy is a watershed for mining and energy production in North Rhine-Westphalia and in Germany as a whole – yet this double withdrawal does not spell the end for the energy sector or for the innovative capacity of this region. Though the exit from nuclear energy will certainly cause problems in some areas, the restructuring process taking place as part of the energy transition will create real opportunities for Germany’s number-one ‘energy state’. Global demand for energy, and more particularly for intelligent and efficient energy production technologies, continues to grow. And it is mining that provides the basis for the energy industry and the expansion and redevelopment of the infrastructure that goes with it.

Mit freundlichem Glückauf,

Dr. Eckehard Büscher, EnergieAgentur NRW

 

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Issue 03/2015

The ENTRIA Project: Selected Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Research Topics

ENTRIA (“Disposal Options for Radioactive Residues: Interdisciplinary Analyses and Development of Evaluation Principles”, ­www.entria.de) is a joint research project carried out by twelve departments and institutes from German universities and major research institutions and one partner from Switzerland. It is financed by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Scientists representing natural sciences, civil engineering, philosophy, law, social and political sciences, and technology assessment carry out disciplinary and interdisciplinary research addressing three options to manage especially high-level radioactive waste:

In the paper, the following selected research topics – both disciplinary and interdisciplinary – are briefly introduced in order to provide an impression of the project scope:

Fig. 1.  ENTRIA structure

Fig. 1. ENTRIA structure

The Project

Obviously, radioactive waste management (RWM) concerns society as a whole and therefore needs more than technological and natural science research. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding, inter alia, the integrated research project ENTRIA in order to support the development of interdisciplinary research approaches as well as professional (academic) education and knowledge management. ENTRIA (“Disposal Options for Radioactive Residues: Interdisciplinary Analyses and Development of Evaluation Principles”, www.entria.de) is carried out by twelve departments and institutes from German universities and major research institutions and one partner from Switzerland. The scientists participating in ENTRIA represent natural sciences, civil engineering, philosophy, law, social and political sciences, and technology assessment. Recognising that all these disciplines need to interact when radioactive waste management is concerned, the project aims at investigating and developing evaluation principles and knowledge about “context structures” for three options to manage especially high-level radioactive waste:

In order to facilitate interdisciplinary research and co-operation, the project is organised in three so-called vertical projects, each addressing one of the management options and all mainly treated by natural scientists and civil engineers. In addition, overarching aspects such as “Synthesis, Co-ordination and Communication”, “Technology Assessment and Governance”, “Ethical and Moral Substantiation, Legal Prerequisites, and Implications”, and “Interdisciplinary Risk Research” are addressed by interdisciplinary so-called transversal projects (Figure 1).

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The repository commission: a historic chance to solve an ongoing conflict

Germany’s Commission on the Disposal of High-level Radioactive Waste, which was set up in compliance with the country’s Repository Site Selection Act, has been tasked with drawing up criteria for a site selection process and evaluating the act by mid-2016. Lessons can be learned from the failed Asse and Gorleben repository projects, and the selection process should take these into account. Transparency and widespread public participation are crucial to reaching a broad consensus on the issue of permanent disposal. The commission must also produce a plan for avoiding and correcting errors during the selection process. Key elements of a selection process already exist or can be adapted to reflect the current state of the art with relatively little effort. Working from this basis, it should be possible to achieve a result that can end the ongoing conflict surrounding permanent disposal.

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IAEA guidance on disposal and siting

Fig. 1.  Hierarchy of Safety StandardsBild 1.  Hierarchie der Safety Standards

Fig. 1. Hierarchy of Safety StandardsBild 1. Hierarchie der Safety Standards

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Can multi-criteria analysis models support the site selection for a repository for heat-generating waste?

Fig. 1.  Schematic representation of a Hasse diagram (8) Bild 1.  Schematische Darstellung eines Hassediagramms (8)

Fig. 1. Schematic representation of a Hasse diagram (8)
Bild 1. Schematische Darstellung eines Hassediagramms (8)

Fig. 2.  Linear extensions of a fictive Hasse diagram (changed according to (11)) Bild 2.  Lineare Extensionen eines fiktiven Hassediagramms (verändert nach (11))

Fig. 2. Linear extensions of a fictive Hasse diagram (changed according to (11))
Bild 2. Lineare Extensionen eines fiktiven Hassediagramms (verändert nach (11))

The decision for or against a potential site for a nuclear waste repository is highly complex and requires decision-makers to consider multiple assessment criteria. The complexity of each site and its characteristics, and the differing opinions among members of the public and advocacy groups mean that conflicts of interest are likely to arise. In this paper, the author suggests that multi-criteria analysis models could be used to provide methodological support during the selection process. The models can map these types of decision situations and suggest coherent solutions with relatively little formal effort. They allow users to compare different options simultaneously and ensure that their decision-making is conscious rather than arbitrary.

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Disposal facility building also is mining engineering – Germany can tap into this expertise and planning potential

Fig. 1.  Shaft sinking with a shaft milling machine. Bild 1.  Beispiel einer Schachtherstellung mit Schachtfräse. Source/Quelle: Thyssen Schachtbau GmbH

Fig. 1. Shaft sinking with a shaft milling machine.
Bild 1. Beispiel einer Schachtherstellung mit Schachtfräse.
Source/Quelle: Thyssen Schachtbau GmbH

The conventional mining industry has a rich tradition and as mining is practised all over the world under a whole range of different conditions the industry has witnessed all kinds of technical developments aimed at controlling strata behaviour and winning the target mineral as efficiently as possible. The proposed use of deep geological deposits as disposal facilities for nuclear waste has transformed the role of the mining industry and instead of extracting material from the ground mining engineers are now focussing more on how to store waste material safely deep below the earth’s surface. Nevertheless, this new remit retains many of the key aspects of conventional mining and the experience that the industry has built up over the years is still of vital importance when it comes to selecting a suitable disposal site and planning a final waste disposal facility in deep geological formations. These processes benefit from the support of specialists with a mining engineering background, as this can help to avoid unnecessary delays, additional costs and potential damage to public image. The following paper describes some of the expertises and methods developed by the conventional extraction industry that are also of relevance for the construction of disposal facilities.

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Cigéo: the French deep geological repository for ­radioactive waste – excavation techniques and tech­nologies tested in underground laboratory and forecasted for the future construction of the project

Fig. 1.  Geology of Bure area (URL and Cigéo)  Bild 1.  Geologie des Gebiets um Bure (URL und Cigéo)

Fig. 1. Geology of Bure area (URL and Cigéo)
Bild 1. Geologie des Gebiets um Bure (URL und Cigéo)

Cigéo is the French project for the repository of the high activity and intermediate long-lived radioactive waste. It will be situated at a depth of 500 m, in a clayish rock formation. An underground laboratory was built in the year 2000 and numerous tests are performed since 15 years, in order to know in detail the behavior of the rock and its ability to confine radioactive elements. In addition, this underground laboratory has brought and will continue to bring many lessons on the excavation methods to be chosen for the construction of Cigéo.

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Deep geological repositories in the UK: Current underground planning and competency requirements for waste packaging systems

Fig. 1.  Proposed layout of a geological disposal facility Bild 1.  Schema eines Endlagers über und unter Tage Source/Quelle: NDA 2010 (1)

Fig. 1. Proposed layout of a geological disposal facility
Bild 1. Schema eines Endlagers über und unter Tage
Source/Quelle: NDA 2010 (1)

Nuclear fission has been used for commercial electricity generation in the UK since 1956. This early (and world first) entry into the nuclear energy industry has created a huge challenge in the form of waste disposal and decommissioning, as many of the original facilities have left behind types of waste that by today’s standards are both abnormal and also poorly documented. The UK has already agreed on the concept of using deep geological formations for the permanent storage of this waste, and the material yet to be produced. However, the choice of site is still undecided. This paper outlines the main issues at stake and discusses the previous approach and future proposals for the construction of a permanent waste repository in the United Kingdom.

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