Yes, you can build your very own nuclear fusion reactor in your house! But first, a few warnings:

-This project includes lethal voltage levels. Make sure you know your high voltage safety or have a qualified electrical advisor.
-Potentially hazardous levels of x-rays will be produced. Lead shielding of viewports is a must!
-Deuterium, an explosive gas, will be used. Make sure to check for fuel leaks.
-All the other inherent dangers of a home engineering project of this degree (a wide gamut of potential injuries, damage to the checking account, and the loss of general sanity)

Here are the minimum required materials:

-A vacuum chamber, preferably in a spherical shape
-A roughing vacuum pump capable of reaching at least 75 microns vacuum
-A secondary high vacuum pump, either a turbo pump or oil diffusion pump
-A high voltage supply, preferably capable of at least 40kv 10ma - Must be negative polarity
-A high voltage divider probe for use with a digital multimeter
-A thermocouple or baratron (of appropriate scale) vacuum gauge
-A neutron radiation detector, either a proportional He-3 or BF3 tube with counting instrumentation, or a bubble dosimeter
-A Geiger counter, preferably a scintillator type, for x-ray detection and safety
-Deuterium gas (can be purchased as a gas or extracted from D2O through electrolysis - it is much easier and more effective to use compressed gas)
-A large ballast resistor in the range of 50-100k and at least a foot long
-A camera and TV display for viewing the inside of the reactor
-Lead to shield the camera viewport
-General engineering tools, a machine shop if at all possible (although 90% of mine was built with nothing but a dremel and cordless drill, the only thing you really can't build without a shop is scratch building the vacuum chamber)

Step 1: Assemble The Vacuum Chamber

A quality high vacuum chamber is required for the fusor to operate. Sometimes an appropriate chamber can be found on eBay, but generally it is best to make one. Parts can be scrounged for several hundred dollars, or purchased new for $500+.

Get two stainless steel hemispheres, purchase two corresponding conflat-flanges (8" flanges in my case), bore out holes for accessory flanges, and then TIG weld it all together. Flanges are typically either of the KF or the conflat style. Conflat can be seen in the image below as the flanges with bolts, and KF (kwik-flange) are seen as those with only clamps holding an o-ring on the mating surface. Only weld on the inside, never on the outside (since virtual leaks can be formed if both inside and outside are welded). If you've never TIG welded before, it would be wise to have someone with experience do it as the welds must be flawless with no pin-sized holes or porous areas to hold a vacuum.

After machining, thoroughly clean the chamber and avoid getting fingerprints in it since these will outgas, which means at vacuum pressure molecules in the oil of finger prints or machining oil will become vapor and make it hard to maintain plasma stability or reach a good ultimate vacuum level.


<p>Does Wattage for the reacotr matter? If so, what would you recomend?</p>
<p>how much is this gonna cost?</p>
<p>Per the original article you can put one together for $500. But the original articale was written in the 70's.</p>
Depends on your goals and schedule. Between 1k and 10k generally, with a very common spot in the 2-4k range.
<p>Alot of comments unanswered here: </p><p>1.No machine will ever be 100% efficient. We can get closer and closer, but never to exactly 100%, because some energy will always be lost as heat.<br>2. Energy in &gt; Energy out. (look up gibbs free energy for more info). Since 100% efficiency is impossible, you will never get exactly, or more energy out of a reaction in you put in.<br>3. While im sure that this machine can produce small amounts of fusion reactions, almost all energy is lost to heat or radiation, don't plan on dumping a few thousand bucks into building one of these and having near perfect clean energy.</p><p>4. Basic nuclear chemistry. This machine uses incredibly high temperatures to overcome the positive to positive repulsion between deuterium nuclei. No, this will not work with H-1, H-3, or an radio-isotope of thorium. Only deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass number of 2 AMUs.)</p>
<p>Getting more energy than you put in doesn't necessarily violate the laws of physics. Say you had an engine and some gasoline, if you poured the gas into the engine and turned it on, you'd get more energy out of it than what you personally put in. However, if you look at the energy it took to create the engine, the gas, and you, it WILL be a net loss. So, us building a fusion reactor and using it can generate more energy than it takes to build, operate, and fuel the reactor, but the energy that went into forming the dueterium (through whatever process dueterium is naturally formed) and other materials makes it a net negative reaction.</p>
not true especially with the engine scenario. yes you get lots of kinetic energy out. but a significant amount of energy is lost to heat, light, and sound. imagine it's a perfect world and 100% of the air fuel mixture is burned. you lose energy in the explosion as heat and light first of all the explosion also makes a great deal of noise. so yes all the energy put into the process can be accounted for but not all of it is going to the kinetic power generation of an engine ( turning the wheels). <br><br>in the real world we lose even more of that power to friction for in the moving engine components and the drive train on the way to the wheels. again all the the energy is accounted for but is not useful and we aren't gaining any extra. NASA's em drive is the only current known possibility of more energy being generated than I'd bring put in, and its still unknown how it works by the people that made it and whether or not it's just instrumentation error.
<p>A nuclear reaction is lots of energy at the cost of the original atoms. We get something but the universe lost atom #10^47753 which I really could have live without. He was talking bad about you.<br><br>There are lots of examples but this is the way of the future. You don't think we will still be driving combustion engines in a thousand years, do you?</p>
<p>Getting more energy that you put in is the entire point. A simple example is the car you run. You provide a spark and get motion, air conditional and the power for another spark. The only thing you need is more fuel.</p>
<p>It's just the smallest fusion reactor. Not meant to be super efficient. Just fun to build.</p>
<p>how did you go about calculating the intensity of x-ray emission? or did you just shield liberally?</p>
<p>It's minimal fusion. Liberal shielding I would think, but you can gauge it by testing the air between testing. The radiation exposure should be minimal.</p>
<p>How can I produce tritium with this? Also where would the tritium exit the reactor?</p>
<p>It would likely get sucked out with the rest of the gases. Some deuterium/tritium would stay to get fused again or failed and fizz.</p>
How old do u need to be to obtain a radiation maxing permit in Canada
<p>Is it possible to just use a geiger counter with the right GM tube instead of a Neutron Bubble Dosimeter?</p>
<p>also, have you figured out how to recompress a bubble dosimeter without their equipment? just high pressure, or is there more?</p>
<p>Is this even legal since you are maxing radiation which requires a permit. </p>
<p>depens on the country you live in. In the US you need permession but that's just that no 12 year old's are going to try this</p>
<p>this wont work </p>
what diameter tungsten wire is appropriate for the grid?
<p>Hello. Could you also braze using silver and flux or could you soft solder using a silver bearing solder (one without lead and zinc)? Could one also weld only on the outside instead of the inside? Why or why not? Could a Cockroft Walton multiplier also be used for the power supply? Thank you in advance for any input.</p>
<p>could you use 2 or 3 neon sign transformers(10-13kv, 30ma) to get the desired voltage and current?</p>
<p>A Neon Sign Transformer is fine for a demo fusor. You'll be able to get a plasma ball in the center of your grid. But you will never get fusion. NST's are current limited and you cannot connect them in series to get the 35-40kv you will need for fusion. Stay away from Microwave Oven Transformers, too. You're looking for a big X-ray transformer for real fusion.</p><p>http://www.fusor.net/ is an excellent resource.</p>
<p>Well, I know what I'm working on next...</p>
<p>I have seen many things like this before.</p>
<p>I am really interested in this and would love to build it. Is it possible to hook this up with thorium instead of deuterium? How can I simplify this project? Is this fusion reactor hooked up to a capacitor or something of the like that it charges - how is the power harnessed?</p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Josh</p>
<p>How is the power harnessed?</p><p>The most likely way you would harness the power would be to use the heat coming off the reactor to drive a thermal process, probably with water becoming superheated steam to turn a generator turbine.</p>
<p>There is no power harnessed. You lose practically everything to radiation.</p>
<p>Fusion reactions convert some matter into energy which can heat water and thus spin a steam turbine.</p>
<p>I know, in theory. But there have been few instances where more energy came out than went in. Which means you 'd better use the energy you put into the fusor on an electric heater and heat the water directly. You'll be wasting less energy. Fusors, and fusion in general are/is not yet an energy source as much as an energy sink for the moment. </p>
Yeah, but we're working to change that. Have you been keeping up with the Wendlestein 7-X?
<p> Can you please explain what's the point? I don't think the efficiency of all this is 100%. So aren't we just using a lot of voltage to produce less voltage?</p>
<p>The points for building this sort of thing have already been described, I believe. If you would like to have a neutron source, then this could be a path to having one. Then, again, for most folk, the point would be merely to have built it and to have seen it working, and to consume extra time and money that you have. The second question you ask rather answers itself, I think.</p>
Is it even theoretically possible to get more energy output than input? I'm not goading, I'm really asking. I would've thought that energy can be transformed into other KINDS of energy (i.e. fossil fuel into electricity) but the amount of energy would be equal at best. Assuming energy is subject to the rules of the game, where/how would energy that did not exist be produced? Where would it come from? I've always thought of energy as 'static' in the sense that x units of energy = x units of energy. The bottom line being you can't make something where there was nothing. Am I waaaay off in ignoramus territory here? I'm not as well read in physics as I should be, so constructive criticism and education is more than welcome.
<p>Energy is always conserved, but say you had a match. Strikeing that match doesn't take a lot of energy, but it releases a lot when the match ignites. However, there was ernergy put into making the match, and even making the elements that make up the match. So while it may provide usefull energy, it took as much energy to store it within the match as you get out of it.</p>
<p>Yes. X units of energy = X units of energy, but X can't be used as fuel. So we convert it into Y units of energy, which is the same amount of energy, but in a different form that can be used by us. Nuclear fusion has no practical use as a fuel source since it costs more power to fuse atoms than its energy output from the energy release of the atoms. Although it is a cool project to make just for fun</p>
Yes it is possible to get more energy out than in, if it wasnt then we wouldnt exist because things LIKE STARS wouldnt be emitting radiation in the forms of light and heat. But its not likely in this setup. This is more of a &quot;man can artificially create the same reaction that fuels the stars&quot; kind of thing
Hit the reply button too soon. The point of this is really just novelty and to peak interest in physicists to be, and to do real alchemy. Please google fusion before commenting, though. All of your questions and observations are adressed within the first 5 results of a search for &quot;fusion&quot; I promise.
<p>Theoretically possible, but practically very difficult. Its been nearly a hundred years of well funded research and they have only just managed to do an experiment with more energy out than put in. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24429621" rel="nofollow">http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-2442...</a> and this very far from producing a self sustaining reaction, which may take another 50 years of research. <br><br>Power generation is not the aim of this project. You would need a much more involved set up to even try.</p>
<p>Just to add to that answer, there is a good change we will see some fusion reactors in controlled (ie &quot;non-commercial&quot;) settings producing a reasonable amount of power output in the next two decades. In fact, many tokamak designs already produce sustained reactions of several seconds... which may not sound like much but is long enough to use iterative techniques to squash bugs and design a long term use reactor, and long enough to have positive power out.</p><p>As for where the energy comes from, it's from mass-energy conversion. When the elements lighter than iron fuse nuclei, the product element is usually of a slightly smaller &quot;atomic mass&quot;. If you're wondering how that works (because wait, don't we still have the same number of protons and neutrons?), you can either accept some hand waving or go take some advanced physics, but the outcome is that we loose a little mass and gain energy. Since that energy scales with the mass times the speed of light squared, that second part is really big so the first part can still be kind of small and produce energy output. That is to say, our output from fusion is common elements (and the inputs are not particularly rare), and we don't need a lot of material to get a LOT of energy. </p><p>Right now, however, we end up using a lot of energy overcoming repulsive forces between nuclei. We do that by raising the temperature to a point where the mean velocity of the (now plasmafied) atoms is high enough to keep going even against the very high forces applied by short range electric fields at the nucleus of an atom. Since energy tends to go out into a cooler space (all of earth), the current difficulty is keeping that temperature high enough, or finding another way to overcome atomic forces keeping things seperated. </p>
<p>lockeed martin says they'll have it done by 2026</p>
<p>And it'll fit &quot;on the back of a truck&quot; Is that a Semi truck or my neighbor's F150 extended cab? </p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_beta_fusion_reactor" rel="nofollow">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_beta_fusion_rea...</a></p>
<p>Oh wait: The project estimates that it could weigh 300-1000 tons.</p><p>Should have read the article. Sorry. </p>
<p>I don't know, it can't be the same one here on 'Instructables.' If so, I think they made a mistake; I think it should say 300-1000 lbs, not tons, but you can make one under 300lbs. It will easily fit in the bed of an f-150, especially if you keep that in mind while you're making it, but what's the point? OK, I just saw the link and your other comment; you meant the one Lockheed is making that will have a net positive output power ratio. Yea, not fitting on a truck any time soon. I don't think that one has even started to be developed yet, first they need to get the fusion right before they can make a compact model. Here's the Lockheed website for their compact fusion version:</p><p><a href="http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/compact-fusion.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/compact-...</a></p><p>And here's a little known company that says they'll have it done before Lockheed-Martin; may be a company worth investing in:</p><p><a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/news/414559/a-new-approach-to-fusion/" rel="nofollow">http://www.technologyreview.com/news/414559/a-new-...</a></p><p>Of course you probably know the articles people are posting here, that say, &quot;nobody has yet produced more energy from fusion reaction experiments <br>than was required to conduct the experiments in the first place,&quot; are wrong. That turned out to be false shortly after the articles were published last year; it has been done since then, pick a link, choose one:</p><p><a href="http://www.ryot.org/scientists-california-make-nuclear-fusion-breakthrough/407669" rel="nofollow">http://www.ryot.org/scientists-california-make-nuc...</a></p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24429621" rel="nofollow">http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-244296...</a></p><p>That reminds me- Why don't you have anything to drink? Choose one, making you better feeling:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XEQ62baVQ3c" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>No, no you're making good observations, and moreover you're correct! While energy is not &quot;static&quot; in the sense that energy can become mass (e.g. the big bang) and mass can become energy (e.g. solar fusion or black holes) by the equation we know as E = mc^2 + [other things nobody cares about], it IS in fact conserved in a fusion reaction. &quot;eV&quot; is a unit of energy, but it's also a unit of mass for small particles, so let's just equate mass and energy for this oversimplified explanation: particles like protons and neutrons have specific &quot;resting&quot; energies (i.e. when they have not been excited). However, when they combine to form a nucleus, there is a binding energy that means that the final nucleus has LESS energy than the individual particles did before! Mathematically, you still have x = x, but it looks more like (y+z) + (y+z) + energy =&gt; 2y + 2z where 2y is the final energy of the new nucleus, and 2z is radiated energy--much greater than the initial activation energy. Thus it would appear that more energy is created than applied, when in reality, you're just helping the system reach a lower energy level, thus giving off more external radiation. (Think of it like pushing a box up a hill 10 feet then letting it slide down the other side 20 feet. It takes x amount of energy to push it up, but y &gt; x energy comes out because gravitational potential energy is converted into mechanical energy (then friction and heat). There is an activation energy for fusion, but because the free particles move to a lower energy state, like the box, they will give off more energy and make it worthwhile.) </p>
<p>as far as energy forming more than its original amount it is very likely. Imagine multiple explosions timed at the right time one building off of the other to form a new KIND of energy not amount. This is probably how the concept of the atom bomb was theorized. See what we are missing is not all energy is the same type of energy therefore all energy cant be lumped into one category.</p>
<p>As far as I know the conservation of energy law still holds, so, no you can't get more energy out of a process than is put in. As I'm sure you know, though, there's an awful lot (E=MC^2) of energy to be had from a small amount of matter. Difficulty is damping a fission reaction or sustaining (and containing) a fusion reaction.</p>

About This Instructable




More by christensent:Build A Fusion Reactor 
Add instructable to: