National Geosphere Laboratory
An open facility where universities, technical colleges and industry can meet to benefit from the unique research possibilities offered by the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. That is what plans for the laboratory’s future envisage.
For almost 30 years SKB has been conducting research on the final repository for spent nuclear fuel at the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory. During this time the laboratory has evolved into a unique research environment. In the future SKB will not need the laboratory to the same extent and so it would like to see more researchers making use of its facilities.
For this reason SKB has taken initiatives to create a national geosphere laboratory, NGL, with Äspö Laboratory as its central node. The aim is to turn the NGL into a research infrastructure to provide researchers in Sweden and other countries with access to the underground laboratory and the database that SKB has created using measurement data from its research and site investigation at Oskarshamn.
A need for a national geosphere laboratory exists in several disciplines, such as hydrology, environmental studies, geochemistry, geotechnology, microbiology, technological research and material science. One important aim for the NGL is to offer researchers the opportunity to do field work and make observations and experiments both on the surface and deep down in the rock.
Researchers from several Swedish universities and HEIs support the initiative. During 2013 and 2014 funding for planning was provided by the Swedish Research Council to enable studies to identify ways in which this future research infrastructure could be operated. Work is now under way to find funding for the concrete development of these activities. The work is led by Stockholm University in close collaboration with SKB and the municipality of Oskarshamn through the Nova Research and Development Platform.