Request for Information (RFI) - Deep Borehole Field Test
Department of Energy, Idaho Operations | Published October 24, 2014 - Deadline December 8, 2014
U.S. Department of Energy
Request for Information
Deep Borehole Field Test
Consistent with its Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request, the Department of Energy is proposing to conduct a demonstration of the Deep Borehole (DBH) disposal concept. The demonstration will be built upon prior and ongoing research and development and design efforts.
Multiple factors have indicated that the DBH disposal concept may be technically feasible and cost effective for safe disposal of some smaller DOE-managed waste forms in possibly many locations in the U.S. with favorable geological and hydrological characteristics. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC), created by the Secretary of Energy at the direction of the President, as part of its work, examined the work done on DBH disposal over the last decades in the United States and other countries. The BRC recognized the possible role the DBH disposal concept could play in the safe and effective disposition of nuclear materials, and the BRC specifically recommended more research, development, and demonstration of the DBH disposal concept. The Administration's Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste specifically recommended developing a research and development plan for deep borehole disposal, consistent with BRC recommendations.
The DBH disposal concept is to drill a borehole (or array of boreholes) into crystalline basement rock to a depth below surface of about 5,000 m (greater than 3 miles). In this disposal concept, waste canisters would be emplaced in the lower 2,000 m of the borehole, with sealing of appropriate portions of the upper 3,000 m of the borehole. The borehole seal system might consist of alternating layers of compacted bentonite clay and concrete, and asphalt might also be used in the shallow portion of the borehole seal system. Additional information can be found in "Reference Design and Operations for Deep Borehole Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste" SAND2011-6749, October 2011, http://prod.sandia.gov/techlib/access-control.cgi/2011/116749.pdf. The potential use of deep boreholes for waste disposal is similar to other examples of engineered geo-systems, such as geothermal energy production, in which science and engineering is used to appropriately modify the geosphere to achieve a societal goal. Using science and engineering, the natural system would be modified to create an engineered geo-system that is safe, efficient, and cost-effective.
A DBH Field Test is the next logical step in evaluating the feasibility of the DBH disposal concept. Using science and engineering in a DBH Field Test would provide better understanding of the DBH disposal concept, without any use of radioactive waste. The DBH Field Test would be a scientific and engineering experiment, conducted at full-scale, in-situ. The field test would be well-instrumented and monitored with respect to materials, geology, hydrology, chemistry, and other sciences and engineering disciplines to provide enough measurements and data to provide a fundamental understanding of the disposal concept. In addition to the in-situ aspects of the DBH Field Test, there will be accompanying scientific and engineering laboratory tests and analyses, including numerical modeling. The DBH Field Test would provide an opportunity to develop state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and techniques. In addition, the data from the DBH Field Test would provide an opportunity to validate and potentially improve state-of-the-art numerical models.
The DBH Field Test also would provide an opportunity to perform crosscutting experiments related to other scientific and engineering aspects of the subsurface. Besides waste disposal, there are interests in understanding deep and/or large borehole performance in such diverse fields as geothermal energy production, fossil energy production, and carbon sequestration. Although all these subsurface endeavors are commonly looking at different geologic and hydrologic conditions, such as crystalline vs. sedimentary rock; permeable vs. tight rocks; fractured vs. unfractured rock; and hot vs. cooler rock, there are nevertheless many common scientific and engineering challenges and interests. Some of the common challenges and interests include the following:
Sealing techniques and materials
Subsurface characterization and data acquisition
Permeability measurement and/or modification
Stress field measurement and modification
Geochemical characterization and/or modification/evolution
The Department of Energy will welcome and encourage discussions on incorporating in the DBH Field Test other tests, experiments, and measurements related to these other subsurface challenge areas.
With this Request for Information (RFI), the Department of Energy is requesting information to measure the interest of communities in hosting a DBH Field Test. A community hosting the DBH Field Test may benefit by gaining a more thorough understanding of the local subsurface geologic and hydrologic characteristics that may permit better community management of local resources. Economic and scientific aspects of the DBH Field Test also may benefit the local community, policy decision makers and regulators, local and state government, universities, and other regional stakeholders in such other subsurface technical areas such as geothermal energy production, fossil energy production, and carbon sequestration amongst others.
Purpose of DBH Field Test and Information Request
The purpose of the DBH Field Test is to test drilling, monitoring capability and disposal feasibility of the DBH disposal concept for some smaller DOE-managed waste forms of radioactive wastes. The field test would not, however, include any use of radioactive waste. In addition, the DBH Field Test would provide an opportunity to gain insight into crosscutting subsurface challenges (e.g., drilling techniques, wellbore stability, sealing, etc.) across such diverse areas as geothermal energy production, fossil energy production, and carbon sequestration. The goals of the DBH Field Test are to:
•1. Test the feasibility of characterizing and engineering deep boreholes
•2. Test processes and operations for safe emplacement in deep boreholes
•3. Confirm geologic controls in a deep geological environment
•4. Test safety and practicality of the deep borehole disposal and retrieval, and borehole sealing concepts.
The DBH Field Test would consist of local site characterization before drilling, drilling one or more boreholes of sufficient depth and diameter to permit appropriate geologic, hydrologic, thermal, chemical, and engineering testing, including in the borehole(s). It is currently planned to drill an initial characterization borehole of approximately 5km depth with a bottom-hole diameter of approximately 8.5 inches. Based on having positive results of drilling that hole, a second approximately 5 km deep borehole would be drilled with a bottom-hole diameter of approximately 17 inches. The purpose of this RFI is to seek the interest in, and input from, States, local communities, individuals, private groups, academia, or any other stakeholders willing to host a DBH Field Test. The following are preferred guidelines for a site for the DBH Field Test:
•- Less than 2 km (1.2 miles) depth to crystalline basement
•- Not at or proximate to a strategic petroleum reserve site
•- Not near an urban area
•- Site area greater than 1 km2 (about ½ square mile so that there is ample area for drilling operations)
•- Distance greater than about 100 km (about 60 miles) to topographic slope of greater than 1º to avoid deep groundwater circulation
•- Geothermal heat flux less than 75 mW/m2
•- Less than 2% probability within 50 years of peak ground acceleration greater than 0.16 g from a seismic event (generally indicative of area of tectonic stability)
•- Distance to Quaternary age volcanism greater than 10 km (6.2 miles)
•- Distance to Quaternary age faulting greater than 10 km (6.2 miles)
- No known major crystalline basement shear zones or major tectonic features
- Low density of petroleum drilling
- Lack of known existing surface or subsurface anthropogenic radioactive contamination
Responses to this RFI should include at a minimum the responder's extent of interest in providing a host site for the DBH Field Test; identification, ownership and description of any proposed host site; and discussion of how any proposed host site meets the above preferred location guidelines and state and local government approval requirements. Additional information could be included relevant to any other suitable characteristics or advantages of a proposed host site.
Responders are advised that their RFI response package should be submitted without any restrictive markings. However, if restrictions are required in order to fully explain a response, the responder is responsible to mark the cover page and any and all submittal documents appropriately. Respondents are strongly discouraged from placing any restrictive markings on submissions as they may limit DOE's ability to use the submitted information.
Administration by Federal and Non-Federal Personnel
When considering responses to this RFI, Federal employees are subject to the non-disclosure requirements of the Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1905. The Government may seek the advice of qualified non-Federal personnel; submissions may be reviewed by support contractors and private consultants. The Government may also use non-Federal personnel to conduct routine, nondiscretionary administrative activities. The respondents, by submitting their response, consent to DOE providing their responses to non-Federal parties. Non-Federal parties given access to responses will be subject to an appropriate obligation of confidentiality prior to being given access.
Exchange of Information with DOE
DOE representatives may choose to meet with potential offerors regarding this RFI. Such exchanges may be conducted to get further clarification/information of potential industry capability to meet the requirements.
Questions regarding this announcement shall be submitted in writing by e-mail to the Contract Specialist, Mark Payne at email address email@example.com. Verbal or telephone questions or responses will not be accepted. DOE does not intend to publically post questions related to this RFI. However, DOE may, at its discretion, publically post questions and answers in response to this RFI; accordingly, questions shall not contain proprietary or classified information.
RFI Submittal Instructions
Please submit response with the cover page, text (single spaced, 11-point font, with 1-inch margins), and illustrations, maps, figures, and tables. Responses must be provided as a PDF attachment to the email, not to exceed 10 MB in size. On the cover page, please include the following:
Organization/ Entity name
Organization/ Entity address
Point of Contact name, email and phone number
Please also note the following RFI response submittal requirements.
•1. Only written electronic copies of information will be accepted. The transmitting e-mail should contain the following subject line: Response to Request for Information - Deep Borehole Field Test. The body of the email should be very brief. The complete response to this RFI should be provided in the pdf file attached to the email submission.
•2. Proprietary information shall be clearly marked. DOE will not be responsible for any proprietary information that is not clearly marked.
•3. Please submit all information by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time, December 8, 2014.
Contracting Office Address
U.S. Department of Energy - Idaho Operations Office
1955 Fremont Avenue
Idaho Falls, ID 83415
Primary Point of Contact:
Mark Payne, Contract Specialist
DISCLAIMER AND IMPORTANT NOTES
This RFI is not a Request for Proposal (RFP); DOE is not accepting proposals at this time. This RFI is issued solely to request information that may be used by DOE to develop and issue a RFP. The RFI is for information and planning purposes; all responses to this RFI will be treated as informational only. In accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, 48 C.F.R. 15.201(e), responses to this RFI are not offers and cannot be accepted by DOE to form a binding contract. DOE will not provide any reimbursement for costs incurred in responding to this RFI. Respondents are advised that DOE is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted under this RFI. Responses to this RFI do not bind DOE to any further actions related to this topic.
DOE reserves the right to change its requirements, issue an RFP as described herein, issue an RFP involving only a portion of the elements listed, or not issue an RFP at all. Any information contained in this RFI is subject to change. If DOE chooses to issue an RFP, final details, including the anticipated award size, quantity, and timing of the funded awards will be subject to Congressional appropriations and direction.