Purdue Gets License for First U.S Digital Nuclear Reactor

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photo courtesy of Purdue University photo courtesy of Purdue University
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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has officially licensed Purdue University Reactor Number One as the first completely digital nuclear reactor instrumentation and control system in the country. The digital conversion of PUR-1 has been in progress since 2012.

The facility was originally built in 1962 and has worked to stay up-to-date. The digital conversion of PUR-1 began nearly seven years ago, when the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Purdue a grant through its Nuclear Energy University Program to switch out the reactor equipment with an updated instrumentation and control system. 

The university says the reactor provides a platform for research, including understanding how heavy metals affect mental health, identifying the origins of a 1,000-year-old artifact or eventually predicting how well pilots will fly new planes.

Purdue developed and built the fully digital control system in partnership with Mirion Technologies and the Curtiss-Wright Corp.

“Modern control technology in the nuclear sector will allow for big data applications and increased reliability,” said Clive Townsend, the supervisor for Purdue's reactor in a news release. “We’re going from the vacuum tubes and hand-soldered wires of the ’60s, to LEDs, ethernet cables and advanced electronics.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the newly licensed PUR-1 will precede a three-day summit, “Atoms for Humanity,” on September 3 at Purdue University.

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