12 Year Old Builds Successful Fusor At Home

Nuclear fusion, as a method of power generation, continues to elude humanity. It promises cheap, virtually limitless energy, if only we could find a way to achieve it. On the other hand, achieving nuclear fusion of a few atoms just for the fun of it is actually quite doable, even in the home lab. [Jackson Oswalt] is one of the youngest to pull it off, having built a working fusor at home at the age of 12.

The fusor consists of a cross-shaped chamber, which is pumped down to a high vacuum to enable the fusion reaction to occur. Deuterium is then pumped into the chamber, and confined by an applied electric field from a power supply in the vicinity of 50 kV. With the right combination of geometry, vacuum and other factors, it’s possible to fuse atoms and observe the characteristic glow of the reaction taking place.

In order to be recognised as having achieved fusion by the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, one must typically have proof of the release of neutrons from the fusion reaction. [Jackson] showed this with a neutron detector setup, by inserting and removing it during a run to demonstrate the fusor was the source of the signal. Photos of the glowing fusor don’t go astray, either, and [Jackson] was more than happy to deliver.

We’ve seen fusor builds before – [Erik]’s build got him into the Plasma Club back in 2016.

[via Fox News]

53 thoughts on “12 Year Old Builds Successful Fusor At Home

        1. At 12 I had a 150kv Van Degraff generator in my bed room. Of course it produce range currents. OTOH I had strict rules on what I could pass that current through for fear of x-rays. Passing it through the doorknob of my room was banned for fear of getting my butt warmed.
          I turned 12 in 1964.

        2. When I was 13 I was working with 30KV not quiet 50 but pretty close – I was trying to build a nitrogen laser :)

          Never got the laser to run but made some cool burn marks in things – if only my parents knew lol

  1. This article has had so many negative comments elsewhere about being rich and whatnot. Glad Hackaday is keeping civil, I think any young person investing time in science is something to applaud, I really doubt something as trivial as money would have stopped this kid if he is anything like I was at that age.

      1. considering that the other kids had parents/mentors/teachers who could read to THEM and who may or may not have done so, I wouldn’t be too worried about that as disadvantaging other kids.

  2. Fusion of a couple of types are all too common terrestrially as it happens more often than most imagine eg without ITER/tokomak like brute force as in the way Sols works well at 275W/cubic metre at/near the core (less than biochemical eg human body) although mostly by carbon cycle nuclear catalysis. You can even buy a neutristor (Sandia labs) to produce neutrons on demand by the device’s local fusion in relation to an electrical input such as for lab work in an instrument configuration of many sorts…

    The trick of course is more (extractable/usable) power out overall than input – one reason why it’s doubtful any sort of chemical hydrogen economy could ever make any economic sense due to the “End to end thermodynamic analysis” failing for all sorts of reasons because “..there is always something more useful to do with electricity than to produce H2..” etc

  3. Fusion is less probable source of neutrons in this setup. And, you can make some neutrons, for example, with just arc welder, or hard ultrasound cavitation, or just by quickly pulling away scotch tape.

    1. I have never heard of neutrons from welding, snynpapers on that. You can get x-rays from scotch tape in a vacuum never heard of it emitting neutrons.

      Fusors like what he built have been built for decades. There is not much too them, I have a couple friends who have built them, one has the record for neutron emission. It’s real fusion. Just mostly useless fusion since you will never get net power out of it.

    2. > And, you can make some neutrons, for example, with just arc welder, or hard ultrasound cavitation, or just by quickly pulling away scotch tape.

      This is outright wrong. You do not get neutrons from these sources, you get x-rays (photons originating from atomic level transitions by electrons). Stuff that emits neutrons is pretty rare, at least in day-to-day life.

    1. This. When I was 12 I used my father’s oscilloscope, multimeter, tools, and supplies for my projects, but they were my projects. My son plays piano but he didn’t save his allowance to buy it.

    1. i tend to view tokamaks with the same level of disdain as fusers (granted as a science fair project its pretty impressive, but its still the arduino of nuclear fusion). tokamaks are only capable of fusing large sums of cash into broken dreams. iter will probably produce good findings, demo will probably work, and then you can build fusion reactors for several billion a pop. the developed world runs clean and everyone else burns coal because they cant afford the damn fusion reactor.

      put the money and the talent into fringe fusion and you will get better results. polywell is looking very promising, and there are many others. most of them only need a few million as opposed to billions. also if they work they will be a couple orders of magnitude cheaper and the developing world would be able to afford them.

  4. If your only reason to doubt the information presented is the age of the person presenting it, I hope you never have children, no one deserves to be put through being raised by someone like you.

  5. I think this kid’s legit. He’s got over 90 posts on the Fusor.net forum with a lot of development details. Who cares if he’s more financially fortunate than you. We all have to deal with the deck we’ve been dealt. Let’s encourage more kids to get out there and make something!

    1. Hmm, satire perhaps ? No conspiracy here, its rather fundamental physics, easy to test in almost any uni lab on the planet. Just like radiative transfer, Beer-Lambert, GHG’s well within a 2nd year or even focused 1st year uni student to prove wrong any time in last 150+ years yet not ever done, same with fusion, tunneling works but so far primarily at Sol, terrestrial permutations certainly worthy of pursuing so qudos for Experimental Methods – no evidence any power companies against that, heck the first to exploit fusion at even small scales would make global headlines and if through an appropriate public company vehicle would make many billions in very short order as well as manage disclosures with licensing issues for many years too…

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