Investigation and analysis of the macro- and micro-responses of bentonite-sand mixtures to temperature

An Li, Wei Qiang Feng, Ze Jian Chen, Numan Mailk, Jian Hua Yin, Chao Zhou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Bentonite-sand mixture has been proposed as a buffer material of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) repositories in many countries. The elevated temperature in HLW repositories significantly influences the properties and behaviour of the surrounding buffers. However, to date the mechanism of temperature effects on the behaviour of the bentonite buffer is not well understood. This study is aimed at clarifying the macro- and micro-responses of bentonite-sand mixtures by conducting cone penetration test, rheometer test, flask volumetric test, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) at different temperatures. The results from macro-experiments show that the liquid limit and yield stress increased while bound water content decreased with increasing temperature. The normalized relationships disclose the sand content dramatically affects the degree of temperature influence on the macro-behaviour. SEM and MIP results present that the contact manner between particles converted from edge-to-face to the edge-to-edge association and some intra-aggregate pores merged to form inter-aggregate pores as temperature increases. The mechanisms of the increasing temperature influence on the responses of bentonite-sand mixtures can be inferred that: 1) the diffuse double layer is supposed to decrease since more ions were electrolyzed from montmorillonite particles, thereby, increasing the ion concentration and changing the ion valence; 2) the slight shrinkage of diffuse double layer produced nano-fissures, causing water-hold capacity to increase; 3) the temperature-induced transition from bound water into free water results in an increase of liquid volume; 4) increasing temperature led to increased inter-particle repulsive force. Furthermore, an empirical model was proposed to predict the yield stress of bentonite dispersion incorporating the combined effects of sand content and temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100565
JournalGeomechanics for Energy and the Environment
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Bentonite
  • Bound water
  • Diffuse double layer
  • Liquid limit
  • Micro-response
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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