Retention behaviour of natural clayey materials at different temperatures
The water retention capacity of geomaterials, and especially clayey soils, is sensitive to temperature changes as the physical mechanisms of retention, such as capillarity or adsorption, are affected by it. It is therefore a major issue to be able to define temperature-dependent behaviour of materials, especially for geo-energy and geo-environmental applications involving non-isothermal conditions. This paper presents results of experiments conducted on two representative materials: a hard clay (Opalinus clay) and a plastic clay (Boom clay), both of which have been considered as buffer materials for underground radioactive waste disposal, in Switzerland and Belgium respectively. Two new devices were developed for this purpose to permit the analysis of water retention behaviour at different temperatures. The behaviour of these two materials at ambient (20°C) and high temperature (80°C) was observed and described through the evolution of the degree of saturation, the water content and the void ratio with respect to suction. It appears that the retention capability of the clays reduces significantly with an increase in temperature; on the other hand, the change in temperature had less of an effect on the total volume variation.