Purdue University and Duke Energy released an interim report this week describing small modular reactors (SMRs) as one of the most promising emerging technologies and a carbon-free option to potentially meet the future, long-term power needs of Purdue University.

The report findings came following the first year of a study into whether advanced nuclear technologies could power the university’s West Lafayette campus and supply excess energy to Indiana’s electric grid in the 2030s and after.

No technology has been selected and no decision to build a new nuclear plant has been made at Purdue University or on Duke Energy’s Indiana system. The partners said further exploration is needed, including cost and economic studies, regulatory conditions, site evaluations and additional technology assessments.

The interim report also explored challenges – such as public acceptance, regulatory conditions, cost competitiveness, technology development, used fuel management and skilled workforce availability.

Small modular reactors will typically produce up to 300 MW, with some designs having higher generating capacities. They also have enhanced safety features and are simpler than traditional nuclear plants, making them easier, faster and more affordable to build. Their ability to offer firm power is important for reliability as wind and solar become a larger percentage of the generation mix and coal-power plants are retired.

First-of-a-kind small modular reactors are expected to be in service in the U.S. later this decade, and the federal government is helping to fund several projects.

The Purdue University and Duke Energy feasibility study was announced in April 2022.

See the feasibility study interim report here.

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