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Key Topic 4: Implementation and Optimisation


This research area deals with the integration of new developments during the lifetime of a geological repository (construction and the operation time up to closure).  A licence would be issued for constructing and operating a geological repository on the basis of the available information at the time of the application.  However, during the operational lifetime of a geological repository from its construction to its closure, new technologies, new scientific findings or improvements are likely to occur.  Optimisation and adaptation is on-going throughout the lifetime of the repository from the reference layout, design, adaptation to the site during construction and also during operation.

Optimisation includes improving short-term as well as long-term safety, whilst also improving the industrial conditions of construction and operation.  Improving safety conditions and their demonstration is beneficial in gaining and maintaining confidence.  A benefit of improving the industrial conditions could be a reduction in costs.  Specific developments are also likely to occur in the fuel cycle (higher burn-ups, new reactors and fuels, new cycle options), which may call for adaptation of the design, construction and operation conditions.  In this case, adaptation might be induced by changes in boundary conditions.  Requirements on reversibility and retrievability also affect repository development strategy and implementation.


Research in this area aims to ensure that a higher level of safety, or at least the same level as that demonstrated for the initial licence, is achieved independent of new developments related to repository adaptation and optimisation over time.  A geological repository should take account of new developments in order to adapt and to optimise its construction, operation and closure. Improving the industrial conditions is expected to simplify the work and to improve quality and safety and at the same time to reduce the costs.

The 2011 IGD-TP Strategic Research Agenda identified one research topic of medium importance and urgency:

  • Topic 1 (Medium). Improved methodologies for developing strategies and approaches for adaptation and optimisation – in order to proceed to the construction of a geological repository, licence applications will need to specify how any adaptation and optimisation in design, construction and operations would be managed during the lifetime of the project.