Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

Nuclear Fusion Reactor

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Vicente Estrada-Carpenter and Robert Lehr
Advisor: Steve Alexander

The goal of this project is to build a fusor, a small nuclear fusion reactor. Amateur scientists have created several different types of fusors in recent years and our design is similar to those versions that are known to be successful. We intend to carefully record all of our methods so that this experiment is replicable by a typical college student. Our goal is to inspire people to think beyond oil and petroleum energies, and begin considering the possibility of a nuclear future. 

The device consists of a steel vacuum chamber, spherical grid, high voltage power source, and a diffusion vacuum pump. The fusor works by using electrostatic forces to fuse deuterium ions.  The first step is to create a vacuum, about 10^-4 torr. After a good vacuum is achieved the next step is to inject the deuterium. A high voltage is then applied to the chamber. The chamber will be positively charged, stripping the electrons off the deuterium. The grid will be negatively charged which will then attract the deuterium ions to the center of the sphere. This is where the fusion will occur. If the voltage is high enough the collisions will be powerful enough to overcome the electromagnetic force and we will achieve fusion.

We have all the materials needed for the fusor; all that is left is to put everything together. Currently we are planning a trip to UT to learn how to use our diffusion vacuum pump. The other thing left to do is to fabricate our spherical grid using the spot welder we built. After we’ve completed these tasks we can run the device and try to achieve fusion.