This may sound crazy, but it’s been my dream to build a nuclear reactor since I was a kid. I started college as a physics major, but switched when I discovered biology. Now that I’m working in the UPS Physics Department, the stars have aligned and I finally have an opportunity build a fusor!
What’s a fusor, you ask? It’s a “hot fusion reactor” or, in other terms…. it uses high voltage and high vacuum to force deuterium atoms to combine or “fuse.” The output is energy and a radioactive bouquet of neutrons, x-rays, and UV. This is the principle reaction that we’ve been searching for–the holy grail of “unlimited energy.” The only problem is that this particular device requires more power than it produces. Still, it can provide a very meaningful learning opportunity and it looks really cool. The end result is quite literally an artificial STAR inside this little chamber!
I have assembled a team of young scientists across disciplines including physics, CS, and biology. We’re approaching the project using a start-up methodology, aiming for an MVP (minimum viable product) launch. Phase 1 is to simply generate plasma. Phase 2 will be the whole-hog production of neutrons–the key signal that fusion is indeed happening. Phase 3 will be refinement of the system, numerical controls, and use in research.
My hope is that the project is student-driven and provides plenty of educational opportunities. In the future, I hope that this fusor can be used for research and educational purposes, as well as PR for the UPS Physics program.
If successful, this will be one of only a handful of projects to successfully accomplish fusion in the world. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be spearheading this!
Yesterday we got the vacuum system functional, and managed to bring the pressure down to 4.7e-5 Torr. That’s way lower than what we need for fusion, so I think we’re on the right track! Stay tuned for future updates.