PRIME Lab Pugwash Visit in Fall 2015

The Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory, otherwise known as the PRIME Lab, is a dedicated research and service facility for accelerator mass spectrometry located beneath the engineering fountain at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.  The building featuring the lab contains 31,000 sq. ft. of floor space with 14 offices and 16 laboratories. New chemical preparation laboratories of 1,070 sq. ft. have also been constructed in the Chemistry building.


The facility was focused around the Physics Department’s tandem electrostatic accelerator. Although the instruments and detection methods are those of nuclear physics, additional research involves collaborations among the departments of Physics, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry, Agronomy, Foods and Nutrition, and Vetinary Science, and Pharmacy. This accelerator mass spectrometry has the capability to measure the full range of radionuclides including 10Be, 14C, 26Al, 36Cl, 41Ca, and 129I with higher energies than most accelerator mass spectrometers. The only other facility in the nation with this capability is CAMS at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. For more information go to 

PUR-1 Nuclear Reactor

The Purdue University Reactor Number 1 is a research reactor located three stories beneath the Electrical Engineering Building at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  The PUR-1 was the first nuclear reactor in Indiana being built in 1962.  Although another reactor was later installed in Jefferson County, it was removed when constructed halted in 1984 and to this day, PUR-1 is the only nuclear reactor operating in Indiana.


The reactor is utilized for educational purposes in Purdue University's School of Nuclear Engineering.  In addition to teaching students in the fundamentals of reactor physics, the institution also uses it for research in the fields of nuclear engineering, health science, chemistry, pharmacy, agriculture, biology, and nanotechnology.  It is licensed to produce up to one kilowatt of thermal power, making it safer and less expensive than reactors designed for research or electricity generation. Allowing safe visualization while operating, the reactor's core is two cubic feet in volume and sits at the bottom of a seventeen-foot-deep cooling pool of water that measures eight feet in diameter.  For more information, go to


Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Waste Water Treatment Plant, newly renovated in 2004, has been awarded the “2006 Collection System Award for Large Facility” by the Indiana Water Environment Association for the innovative practices of maintaining the City’s Collection System.  The current facilities have a capacity of 26 million gallons/day, average daily flow of 20.65 million gallons/day, and have a usage fee per 1000 gallons to treat of $5.00.


For their efforts to address issues in health and environment, the U.S. EPA awarded the Wastewater Treatment Plant "Best Operated Wastewater Treatment Plant for Secondary Large in Region 5".  Their strategy of defense against pollution involves public education and Industrial Monitoring.   For more information, go to



Birck Nanotechnology Labs

The Birck Nanotechnology Center is made of 187,000 square feet, providing office space for 45 faculty members, 21 clerical and technical staff members, and up to 180 graduate students. At the center of the building is the Scifres Nanofabrication Laboratory.  This lab is a 25,000 sq. ft. nanofabrication cleanroom where in part is constructed as a biomolecular cleanroom having a separate entry, gowning areas, and isolated air flow.   

Laboratory space external to the clean room contains high temperature control to less than 0.1 °C and special low vibration rooms for nanostructures research.  Other laboratories are specialized for crystal growth, bio-nanotechnology, molecular electronics, and more!  In addition, a nanotechnology incubator facility unique to the center is provided for communication with industry. For more information, go to




Celery Bog

The Celery Bog is a wetland located in West Lafayette, Indiana.  This wetland was utilized for farming in the twentieth where crops such as celery were grown in the rich peat of the drained wetland.  However, this wetland was not optimal for farming as the agricultural drainage system constantly failed.  This resulted in the termination of farming in the bog.  Due to the dissertation of farming, part of the former wetland has gradually reverted back to wet conditions.  

This area is now utilized for educational purposes preserved as a site now known as the Celery Bog Nature Area.  The Celery Bog is also listed as a “significant ecological site” by the Indiana Natural Heritage Program and it has become an important 
landmark of West Lafayette.  For more information, go to




Wade Power Plant

The Wade Power plant is a coal-fired power plant located in West Lafayette, Indiana.  This power plant consists of four boilers in the utility plant, two stoker coal boilers co-firing natural gas at 20% of each boiler’s total capacity, one fluidized bed coal boiler, and one dual fuel natural gas/fuel oil boiler. This power plant is responsible for much of running Purdue University.  It heats campus buildings, generates electricity used on campus, and cools campus buildings.


To provide heat to campus buildings, the utility plant boilers generate steam ran through a tunnel system.  The steam is the only source for 13.5 million gross square feet of campus buildings and over 90% of that steam is recycled back to the boilers to be reused once it condenses and is returned to the utility plant.  The Wade Power plant typically generates 30-50% of electricity required to meet campus needs.  This is done by cogeneration where the steam used to heat buildings also drives chillers and as a result produces electricity reducing Purdue’s environment footprint.  Campus buildings are cooled through the generation of chilled water from two locations of the utility plant that distributes the chilled water to over 11.7 million gross square feet of campus.  For more information, go to