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Purdue University and Duke Energy said they plan to explore using advanced nuclear energy to power the university’s West Lafayette, Indiana, campus.

The two would study power produced through small modular reactors (SMRs).

“We have the world’s pre-eminent team and facilities to conduct the testing, analysis, design, and construction demonstration to actualize the potential of this technology,” said Amit Varma, who leads the school’s Center for Structural Engineering and Nuclear Power Plants.

SMRs are expected as the next evolution in nuclear innovation and technology. Their benefits are linked to the nature of their design – small and modular. SMRs can be sited on locations larger nuclear power plants cannot be. Prefabricated units of SMRs can be manufactured before being shipped and installed on site, making them more affordable than large power reactors.

Purdue noted it has been at the forefront of SMRs, developing the steel-plate composite construction used in SMRs at the on-campus Bowen Laboratory through the center Varma leads.

“Steel-plate composite technology is fundamental to successfully deploying SMRs within budget and on schedule,” Varma said.

Purdue is currently powered through its Wade Utility Plant, a combined heat and power system that uses steam to provide heat, electricity and chilled water that is used to cool facilities.

A new Duke Energy plant on campus also provides thermal energy in the form of steam to Purdue, while also supplying Duke Energy’s Indiana customers with electricity. Approximately 50% of campus electricity is purchased from Duke Energy.

The SMR campus study exploration is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

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