Full-scale High Level Waste Engineered Barriers (FEBEX)

FEBEX Concept

A typical High Level Waste (HLW) or Spent Fuel (SF) disposal concept includes steel canisters (1) containing waste (2) placed in horizontal drifts (3), surrounded by a clay barrier made up of blocks (4) manufactured from high-density compacted bentonite and situated deep within crystalline rock.

Overview video of the constrution of FEBEX

The FEBEX project has the dual objective of :

  1. demonstrating the feasibility of actually manufacturing and assembling an engineered barrier system based on the Spanish SF disposal concept for a crystalline host rock

  2. developing methodologies and models for assessment of the thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) and thermo-hydro-geochemical (THG) behaviour of the engineered barrier system (near field). 

FEBEX Project Partners

FEBEX Partner Logos

Project supported by the E.U. Directorate General XII, Science, Research and Development
and the Swiss Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (BBW)


FEBEX In-Situ LayoutThe project consists of an "in-situ" full-scale (1:1) test using a heating element to generate the heat radiated from a radioactive disposal canister, engineered bentonite blocks and more than 600 sensors reading continuously relevant parameters, e.g. temperature, water content in the buffer, swelling pressure, etc.

In addition a 1/4 scale "mock-up" test and a series of complementary laboratory tests are being run in Madrid as well as modelling work.


Febex I - General objectives

  • Demonstration of the feasibility of emplacement of the engineered barrier system (EBS) for HLW/SF disposal
  • Define the EBS behaviour and barrier function in an realistic environment (study of thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) and thermo-hydro-geochemical (THG) processes in the near field)
  • Test the capability of THM and THG modelling codes
  • Monitoring technology demonstration


Full-scale High Level Waste Engineered Barriers (FEBEX)