New PUC labs to benefit NWI, economic development

2012-12-17T19:15:00Z 2012-12-17T19:30:25Z New PUC labs to benefit NWI, economic developmentLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
December 17, 2012 7:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Cutting-edge technology in two new laboratory facilities at Purdue University Calumet was heralded Monday as a means for conducting advanced research on water and energy efficiency to benefit Northwest Indiana and its economic development.

The new labs at the Water Institute and the Energy Efficiency & Reliability Center in the basement of the Schneider Avenue Building “are really bright starts in Purdue Calumet’s skies,” said Chancellor Thomas Keon during the ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

“Water and energy are significant today, and water is particularly significant in our area,” Keon said. “Especially with people downstate wishing they could tap into our water supply (in Lake Michigan), we find that water is like gold to many people.”

The PUC chancellor also said becoming energy independent as nation will take new ideas for using the energy produced here in different ways and more efficiently. The Energy Efficiency & Reliability Center will be a key player in that research and new technologies, he said.

Keon said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, was instrumental in helping Purdue Calumet obtain funding for the center through the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new labs “are hubs of our economic development,” said Mark Lopez, chief of staff for Visclosky. “The innovators today will be the job creators tomorrow.”

The 2,000-square foot Water Institute lab is part of the Water Institute, which serves to address water-related challenges and problems as they relate to local and state agencies; business and industry; and the environment. Previously, the institute, which was opened in 2005, was spread across three campus labs.

The new lab is supported by $1.8 million in grants and donations from the U.S. Department of Energy; National Science Foundation; BP; and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering.

The facility includes a class 100 clean room for conducting experiments sensitive to air contamination, a laser system for measuring the size and speed of water particles, a scanning electron microscope, a plasma mass spectrometer for metal analysis, a geothermal unit for heating and cooling air, a membrane system for studying water filtration and a sensor station for studying water contaminants.

“What crude oil is to Saudi Arabia, water is to Northwest Indiana,” said George Nnanna, Water Institute Director, professor and head of PUC’s mechanical engineering department, at the ceremony.

The Water Institute has received more than $8 million in research grants and engaged in more than 60 partnerships with industries, municipalities and other organizations since its establishment in 2005.

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