This project is currently on hold. It hopefully will be resumed later on.
A project I've always wanted to undertake is to create a hobbyist Fusor. A fusor is the simplest kind of fusion reactor. Nuclear fusion occurs when atoms overcome the Coulombic force of protons to have a strong nuclear interaction and release the binding energy, which normally only occurs during high temperature environments like the core of the sun or inside an magnetic torus. A Farnsworth–Hirsch fusor uses inertial electrostatic confinement which has a charged symmetric surface to accelerate ions to a center point that has high density of fast moving particles, causing a high chance for fusion at relatively low temperature. These designs are extremely simple compared to the other tori and plasma chambers around Madison and I feel the physics garage would be a great environment to create one.
This project would use a vacuum chamber, high voltages and potentially extremely low radiation (neutrons and xrays).
The first target would be a 'demo fusor' which has the basic apparatus but operates in air, not a vacuum, not using somewhat expensive deuterium, and acts at lower voltages but still gives a characteristic glow. It would be used as a stepping stone to a full fusor with actual fusion.
Tentative list of possible equipment:
- High voltage equipment - possibly around 15,000 volt transformer - 60 mA if possible - something like a neon sign
- Spark Plugs
- Reactor grids
- Apparatus would be a bit larger than a basketball (subject to change)
- Vacuum Chamber + Pump (later)
- Deuterium (later)
Hopefully a decent amount of these things, especially the more specialized can be borrowed or gotten cheaply. Far off into the future once this is constructed, it will be put in the physics museum as an example for inertial electrostatic confinement.
We are now working with Paul Nonn, the wiring is being ordered and we will soon start construction on the anode grid.
Please email me for more information/any input/to talk etc. firstname.lastname@example.org
More information can be found here:
http://www.fusor.net/ (main hub of hobbyist fusors)
http://www.electricalfun.com/WorkbenchFun/Fusor_William_Jack.aspx (interview of student that built a demo fusor)
Add your name here to participate:
- Kevin Meaney
- Felipe Gutierrez
- Sofiya Daskalska
Comment from above:
This project was reviewed 14 Mar 2013 by Carlsmith, Unks, Reardon, Lefkow, Nonn with input from Prof. Sarff. As the high voltage and possibility of X-ray production poses potential hazards, this equipment may be constructed but not powered in the Garage. Tests must be conducted in a dedicated space and only under supervision. - Duncan Carlsmith
 F. Romanelli, P. Barabaschi, D. Borba, G. Federici, L. Horton, R. Neu, D. Stork, H. Zohm A roadmap to the realization of Fusion Energy (2012) http://www.efda.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/JG12.356-web.pdf?5c1bd2