The “Fusion Jr.” Home Energy Reactor is in essence a mini-generator that derives its power off of combustible waste material (like paper, wood, yard clippings, and even some plastics) inspired by “Mr. Fusion” as seen in the movie “Back to the Future II”. The potential for energy generation is great, and, in fact, this technology was used to power many cars during World War II and is a suggested energy source for developing countries (to provide gas to power stoves mainly). This is a truly unique project (never been done before), and, if completed, you can say that you have successfully converted garbage into electricity!
This is a green technology that derives power from an alternative fuel source that can be built by mostly salvaged components (well, not everything).
The Gasifier unit cleanly converts garbage into a burnable gas often called “syngas” or “woodgas,” then burns it creating heat which can be used to cook food (I have personally used this to cook a pot of soup) or Peltier Cells can convert the heat directly into electricity. The current produced by the Peltier Cells is sent to a Charging Module. The Charging Module charges a rechargeable Storage Battery. The Storage Battery supplies energy to run a Power Inverter. The Power Inverter can be used to run electrical appliances. Later we will see that after setting up the battery, inverter, and charger, turning this into a solar project is as easy as substituting the Fusion Jr. with any solar panel.
The minimum energy expected from one unit is dependent on how many peltier cells are used. Each cell contributes about 3 continuous watts. Potential energy from a Fusion Jr. system is well over 2000 watts, but harnessing all of that energy is difficult, especially since peltier cells are at less than 3% efficient.
Appliances with high watt ratings can be run even with low input because energy is stored in the Storage Battery.
Step 1: Get a Coffee Can
The Gasifier Unit is one of the most crucial components of the Fusion Jr. system. The Gasifier Unit comes in 3 parts, labeled as A (chimney), B (housing), and C (reactor). Each part comes apart.
Trash is put through the chimney and is ignited using an igniter (a lighter). The trash begins to combust with oxygen supplied through holes at the base of the housing. The oxygen travels from the outside into the housing, then into the reactor through the lower holes. As temperature rises and more trash is supplied, the oxygen supply is cut off as the lower holes are blocked off by embers and ash and the trash can no longer combust. The high temperatures cause the creation of “syngas” which primarily consists of the combustible gases carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The “syngas” does not combust, even though there is a high enough temperature, until it reaches the combustion zone labeled by the diagram. The “syngas” combusts with oxygen supplied by a series of holes. The result of this combustion is the release of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and heat. The Gasifier Unit effectively burns garbage without excessive pollution and smoke. Unfortunately, when starting up the gasifier, when the gasifier runs out of fuel, and during windy conditions, smoke is produced. The Gasifier will provide heat for up to a half hour after the flame dies down.
I used a coffee can, a bean can, a small cookie tin can, and a camping pan to make this setup, but you can experiment with different setups. Puncture holes as dictated by the diagram. More holes provides more oxygen and thus a better burn, while less holes allows for more partial combustion which is needed for the formation of gas. The key is to experiment with oxygen intake. Gasification relies on what is sometimes referred to as "partial combustion," which means that, to produce intermediate flammable gases, you must adjust oxygen available in the combustion zone (the number and size of holes).