Repeatable “One-Click” Fusion, From Your Cellphone

Sometimes you spend so much time building and operating your nuclear fusor that you neglect the creature comforts, like a simple fusion control profile or a cellphone app to remote control the whole setup. No worries, [Nate Sales] has your back with his openreactor project, your one-click fusion solution!

An inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) fusor is perhaps the easiest type of fusion for the home gamer, but that’s not the same thing as saying that building and running one is easy. It requires high vacuum, high voltage, and the controlled introduction of deuterium into the chamber. And because it’s real-deal fusion, it’s giving off neutrons, which means that you don’t want to be standing on the wrong side of the lead shielding. This is where remote control is paramount.

While this isn’t an automation problem that many people will be having, to put it lightly, it’s awesome that [Nate] shared his solution with us all. Sure, if you’re running a different turbo pump or flow controller, you might have some hacking to do, but at least you’ve got a start. And if you’re simply curious about fusion on a hobby scale, his repo is full of interesting details, from the inside.

And while this sounds far out, fusion at home is surprisingly attainable. Heck, if a 12-year old or even a YouTuber can do it, so can you! And now the software shouldn’t stand in your way.

Thanks [Anon] for the tip!

22 thoughts on “Repeatable “One-Click” Fusion, From Your Cellphone

    1. While there is a distinct possibility that you were making a joke, in the marginal probability that it is a serious comment, let’s spell it out.
      Not only does “this” have a net energy consumption, it’s designed to. From an energy standpoint, it’s as useful as a lava lamp (a very cool and dangerous one).
      Achieving fusion is no longer the difficult part.
      Still an interesting little project

  1. If you’re using lead as the primary shielding for a fusor, I would be more concerned about your apparent lack of understanding of radiation safety than I would about the lack of smartphone app.

      1. Water, plastics, wax… The real answer is “it’s complicated.” Depends on the energy level of the neutrons. Of course the best shielding is always adequate distance, which the phone would help with.

        You’d want to make sure the shield doesn’t become neutron-activated and radioactive itself, but I somehow doubt he’s getting those energies out of such a device.

        I don’t think the tinfoil would be much help with neutrons. Don’t trust AI with nuclear safety ;)

        1. A thick piece of styrofoam or a fishtank (take the fish out first please) would probably be more appropriate than lead for instance. But you can’t do much better than the inverse square law

          1. Anything containing a lot of hydrogen. You don’t want high density in fact. Elemental hydrogen is too sparse and hard to keep in one place, but cryogenic hydrogen might be a good option for a spacecraft since you already need it for something else. Maybe. On earth, polymer chains, paraffin, or water has plenty of the lightest atom to absorb stray neutrons if it is thick enough

        2. It is complicated, and does depend on the energy of the neutrons. This is deuterium plasma fusion, which means ~2.5 MeV, so “fast”. I apparently don’t remember how to get cross sections from ENDF, but ~30cm of concrete is enough.

          I also wouldn’t be too concerned about activation – unless you’re running this thing particularly hot, you’re unlikely to make enough neutrons to activate enough things to significantly increase radiation above the general background.

        1. You’re welcome, I hope you enjoy it. There’s weeks of reading in that rabbit hole. He does a great public service archiving and analyzing and even writing up in plain English most of NASA et al’s most ambitious and obscure designs and mission plans. Stuff that fell by the wayside during the space race and beyond. Relics of the most ambitious time in modern history, great unbound energies, not only daydreams but real methods to conquer space..

      1. Depends on a strict definition of “x-rays”. There’s vast amounts of bremstrahlung (and I do mean vast – many orders of magnitude above the neutron flux) with about the same energy as the bias on the electrodes (so a 30 kV bias means 30 kV photons), but a steel vacuum chamber will do a surprising amount, and even 5mm of lead will pretty much completely block these. If you decide for whatever reason to run the bias up closer to 100 kV, you’ll maybe want 10mm of lead, but the neutron flux at that voltage is so much higher that I wouldn’t be worrying about the photons.

    1. A lot of the hobby fusors have very low neutron yields even when running deuterium and mostly run other gases for non-fusion demos. X-rays are often the biggest radiation hazard so lead is appropriate.

      Some paraffin wax or plenty of polyethylene wouldn’t hurt for the neut runs though.

      I build one of these getting on for 20 years ago (2005) – it was good fun. Sadly they made the ‘neutron club’ rules somewhat more stringent so I no longer appear in the ‘fusioneers’ list but I have fond memories. Set me up well for my future career too as I now manage a high flux neutron source.

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