Fusion Reactor Wins Science Fairs

[Will Jack] built a heavy water fusion reactor and then won district and regional science fair projects with it. Someone give this man a job!

We looked in on his fusion reactor about a year ago. At the time he had managed to build a magnetic containment field but didn’t have the voltages or the deuterium necessary to achieve fusion. We’ll that’s all changed. Using a boron-10 lined sensor tube he’s managed to detect the rise in neutron counts that would indicate fusion. Remarkable. He’s now working on a refined gas system that will allow him to increase the deuterium purity by cutting down on the leak rate. He mentions a few other hardware improvements such as a new containment unit and an ion source upgrade. Both of these concepts go beyond our knowledge so do make sure to put on your Nuclear Engineering hat while reading through his project update.

36 thoughts on “Fusion Reactor Wins Science Fairs

  1. *Very* impressive. Making just a simple fusor in a bell jar that doesn’t do too much is pretty easy. But this is a lot more involved and technical than just the initial build, it shows some good understanding into how these reactors work. Can’t wait to see what Will works on next.

  2. Where does this guy go to school? Chernobyl High? Eureka Secondary School?

    How exactly does one get deuterium for a Science Fair Project and should we be worried?


  3. Deuterium can be had for $200, for a lecture bottle size.

    These are pretty easy to make, just cost a lot for vacuum equipment. Really nothing new here, its one of those “it looks cool” things. Has no practicality.

  4. @Whoknows:
    What makes you think there is no practicality? People are ‘putzing’ with these things to learn and understand the concepts involved with fusion. How do you know that one day, Will won’t realize so called ‘cold fusion’? That’s right, you don’t.

    Looks awesome. Keep up the work, maybe one day you can solve the world’s energy problems.

  5. @Hirudinea:
    No, it is horrendously inefficient.

    Although the concept is quite simple, going about acquiring all of the components as an amateur, let alone a minor (I began this when I was 14, I am currently 16), is very, very difficult.
    Also, it is not just a thing that looks cool. It is an excellent source for neutrons, as well as a good platform for other plasma experimentation.
    It won’t fuel cities with electricity, but it will fuel one’s mind with ideas, and food for curiosity.

    It is great fun, very interesting, and in many aspects, quite practical (not in energy generation).

    Also, the reactor does not use magnetic confinement, as stated in the article, but rather uses inertial electrostatic confinement.

  6. Lessee here, who just got owned by an adolescent?
    1 Professer Know-it-all
    1 Troll
    3 Chicken Littles
    1 H-a-D writer

    Nice work kid, if I can find it, I’m fwding this URL on to a nuclear engineer friend of mine.; Only because he is of the casual opinion that his present work will result in cold fusion by 2020, a large capacity KW generating mechanism will be feasible in prototype by 2030, and 20% of US power will be generated by it by 2050.
    He’s gonna need you.

  7. @Will

    Very, very impressive sir, keep up the good work. Regardless of how practical or impractical a project like this may be, experimentation is the greatest source of scientific advancement. Theoretical operations are important as well, but too often it seems people forgo the experimentation aspect and nothing is accomplished from brilliant theoretical work.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what kind of efficiency are you getting from this? With respect to the amount of energy needed for operation I mean.

  8. Congrats Will on an excellent escapade! It makes me proud to be a human to see this type of ingenuity. To hell with any nay-sayers… You are one of the few who will help up continue on to greatness. Keep it up!

  9. –in after ignorant fanboys–

    This thing is cool, but there have been a multitude of fusor projects featured on hackaday for years now. Every time it comes up everyone creams their pants without actually understanding what this device does.

    Must be easy to win school science fairs when your parent(s) are loaded and have connections to get all sorts of custom/restricted stuff…

  10. @octel
    I actually funded a large portion of this project myself, and the overall price of the project, when compared to other hobbies and sports that some people may play (when fees and other expenses are factored in), is not terribly high. Also, my parents don’t have too many science “connections” my mom is an interior designer, and my dad works at business firm. The majority of the connections that I made I made myself, and I made them through the very hard work that I have done.

    The majority of the parts were not custom (and none were “restricted” deuterium is not in a sense restricted, but it must be delivered to a non-residential address), rather they were scrounged from ebay. There are very few, if any (other than some small gas line fittings and valves) parts that are not surplus or used.

    Whether or not you win a science fair is not determined by the device you build (if you do build something) rather it is determined by the quality of the data taken, the analysis of said data, as well as the general adherence to the scientific process, and overall quality of your research.

    I have spent many years of hard work forging the connections I have made, as well as building, engineering, and designing my reactor.

    I think that you are being quite cynical in your statements.

  11. Cynical or not, comments like those do serve a purpose. Inevitably there will be people who will read the headline and misunderstand what is being presented here. They will see “fusion reactor” and think that a 16 year old kid has solved our energy problems by inventing a viable fusion reactor for a power plant, without understanding that this is more of an experimentation apparatus than anything purely utilitarian. So those comments will hopefully cause them to look into what this actually is rather than persisting in ignorance.

    At any rate, any one who has ever built anything knows that even a relatively simple project can be more difficult than it sounds, so this project would be a massive undertaking for any hobbyist, much less for a 14 year old, so very well done. Besides, why are you wasting your time answering your detractors here? At least half of them are trolls, the rest are jealous.

  12. Its awesome… I know my projects were not as grand when I was living at the parents house but I am sure you will get the “our power bill dropped by half when you moved out” speach like I did. Keep learning and don’t let the trolls get you side tracked.

  13. Keep up the good work. One day those same trolls giving you a hard time will be crying for a fusion reactor to solve their energy supply problem and power their spaceship to Mars or another solar system.

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