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Purdue University, Duke Energy plan to explore nuclear power source for campus

The exploration plan will begin in the coming weeks and includes a series of meetings and joint studies.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University and Duke Energy announced a plan to explore the feasibility of using advanced nuclear energy as a power source for campus.

In a joint statement, the groups said they intend to study power produced through Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), a move that they said "may be unprecedented for a college campus and a potential fit for Purdue's energy needs."

“No other option holds as much potential to provide reliable, adequate electric power with zero carbon emissions,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in a statement. “Innovation and new ideas are at the core of what we do at Purdue, and that includes searching for ways to minimize the use of fossil fuels while still providing carbon-free, reliable, and affordable energy. We see enough promise in these new technologies to undertake an exploration of their practicality, and few places are better positioned to do it.”

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, SMRs can produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity and are the fraction of the size of a conventional nuclear power reactor. Their modular nature allows them to be manufactured off-site, saving money and time during construction.

“Duke Energy is leading the industry’s biggest clean energy transformation nationwide, and exploring technologies such as this is important work to help get us there," Duke Energy Indiana President Stan Pinegar said in a statement. "Nuclear provides reliable energy and can complement other carbon-free energy sources, such as solar and wind. As the largest regulated nuclear plant operator in the nation, we have more than 50 years of experience with safe, reliable operations. We can share that experience with one of America’s premiere engineering schools to see what this technology could do for its campus as well as the state.”

Purdue is currently powered through the Wade Utility Plant, a heat and power system that uses steam to provide electricity, heat and chilled water that is used to cool facilities. A Duke Energy plant on campus provides thermal energy in the form of steam to Purdue and also supply's energy for Duke Energy's customers throughout the state.

Duke Energy operates the largest regulated nuclear fleet in the country, with 11 nuclear units at six plant sites in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The plan to explore the nuclear power source at Purdue will begin in the coming weeks and includes a series of meetings and joint studies.

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