Purdue is launching a feasibility study to see if nuclear power makes sense for the campus’s energy needs:
Four Purdue engineering professors will work with Duke Energy experts to study nuclear power for the university. President Mitch Daniels says it’s just a study, not a firm commitment, and will take a while to complete. But he says Purdue is committed to going carbon-free, and says any serious discussion of that goal has to incorporate nuclear power.
The U-S has 55 nuclear plants in 28 states, including six Duke plants in the Carolinas. But Indiana hasn’t attempted a nuclear plant in more than 40 years, since NIPSCO abandoned its planned Bailly Nuclear Power Plant in Porter County. Legal and construction delays had ballooned the costs and pushed the project five years behind schedule.
Daniels maintains safety worries about nuclear energy were always overstated. But he suggests people have become less instinctively opposed to the idea as they become more concerned about reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
And Daniels says nuclear technology is more advanced today than 40 years ago. The Purdue discussion will center on small modular reactors, which are cheaper to build than massive power-plant complexes. The reactor itself is small enough to be built elsewhere and trucked to the site, while more reactors can be added if power needs grow. Daniels says Purdue researchers helped develop the construction technology, while its nuclear engineering program means the university has its own experts available to evaluate whether the reactors are appropriate to Purdue’s energy needs.
The U-S hasn’t brought a new reactor online in seven years, though two reactors in Georgia are under construction and expected to be completed this year.