Fusion Jr. Home Energy Reactor




About: IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS PLEASE EMAIL ME AT trevornestorslab@gmail.com Hello I'm Mad Scientist Trevor Nestor. If you like my instructables see my youtube channel! http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCksEFn8xaLP0...


Visit my youtube page for more cool projects: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCksEFn8xaLP0z4rsiHa9zcA?feature=mhee

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

(See Diagrams)
 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).

Step 2: Get Some Peltier Cells Online

Peltier cells utilize semiconductor technology much like standard solar cells. Two polarized semiconductors convert heat flow into electrical current. Naturally, the greater the heat gradient, the more current is produced. A set of 10 peltier cells can be purchased for $70. Surprisingly, this price is cheaper (since I last checked in 2007) per watt produced than solar cells. Peltier cells are often used in heating and cooling applications because when current is passed through a peltier cell, one side becomes hot, and the other side becomes cold.

It is highly recommended that a cooling element (heat sink) is placed in the opposite side of the peltier cell (the side not touching the Fusion Jr.). This allows for a greater cooling gradient. In some cases, fans or even ice can be used as a coolant to allow for a gradient. Don't let the peltier cells get too hot or they will melt though! 

Placing the cells just right for them to get a maximum heat gradient is optimal. Use aluminum tape to attach the cells.

If you do not wish to use peltier cells, other technology can be used as well such as small steam engines or stirling engines. Both can produce enough power to charge batteries or small appliances.

Step 3: Get Some Fuel and Do Some Tests

Initially, tests must be done to ensure that your unit is gasifying properly. To do this, insert solid fuel, hot coals, and/or a bit of tiki torch fuel into the unit. The unit should produce a clean, smokeless flame. This indicated the presence of "biogas." An obsolete book or woodchips should burn nicely.

In my photos, I use no tiki torch fuel or coals, only solid fuel! Notice the clean burn.

This is why this technology is suggested as a fuel source for developing countries and was used to run cars during World War II.

Step 4: Attach Peltier Cell(s)

I have done some work building a larger unit. In this example, I put ice in cooling trays around the unit for a larger heat gradient. Peltier cells are sandwiched between the trays and the actual gasifier. Glue typically does not work because of its tendency to melt or burn off. Aluminum tape works great!

Cooling trays can be filled with snow for a greater heat gradient for those living in cooler climates.

Step 5: Battery, Inverter, and Charger

Now that you have the power source, you need to implement some way to store the incoming power. You will need a 12v rechargable battery, a float charger, and a power inverter. All of these things can be purchased online. You may also wish to buy a $5 voltmeter to monitor the battery's charge.

There are a few subtleties with the components. For example, a squarewave power inverter is not as great as a sinewave power inverter, and a squarewave inverter will not work with many sensative electronics. Some chargers are cheap and actually can damage batteries.  Keep in mind that some lead acid batteries work better than others, and some chargers better than others. Make sure to look at customer reviews before a purchase! Here I just used a standard car battery, but these do not last very long the way that we are using them. Keep an eye out for "deep cycle" batteries. Batteries are measured in "amp hours." In our case, you can estimate how many watts can be powered for an hour using the battery with this formula:
(efficiency %)*(12)*(amp hours)

The power inverter, charger, and voltmeter can be simply clipped to the battery (pay attention to polarity!).

With all of these charging components you can even substitute the Fusion Jr. with a solar panel to provide a usable outlet or power a large variety of solar-related projects!

And That's All!

Step 6: Author's Notes

On Efficiency:
Quite a few have pointed out low efficiency of peltier cells. Perhaps peltier cells are not ideal, yet for a small diy project the simplicity of solid state components makes it attractive and cool. Industrially steam power is more efficient, but on a small scale it would be difficult to make a few mini steam engines/etc by hand and it is no doubt daunting to the amateur DIYer! There has been some talk in the auto industry about replacing a car's alternators with peltier cells at the its exhaust pipe, thus reusing waste heat instead of leeching off of the car's momentum. Peltier cells are not hopelessly inefficient.

On Environmental Effects:
To sequester carbon is to take it out of the carbon cycle. Since all carbon in the carbon cycle enters the gas phase at one point in the cycle, if at any point carbon is added to the carbon cycle at that point it is damaging, and that is the only time it is. Gasification is a technology that is already in use globally, typically gasified using plasma arcs and is an alternative fuel source that is worthy of more attention that it has been given. Every alternative fuel source has drawbacks. In this case a drawback would be the impulse of carbon from one stage of the cycle to another (gas phase) yet the effects are not long term. Introducing sequestered carbon stored underground that is not a part of the carbon cycle (fossil fuels) amplifies the amount of carbon at any stage in the cycle, while introducing carbon already in the cycle amplifies the amount in one stage but takes from another so the net is roughly the same. Not that dinosaurs are not to blame, but burning their gooey remains is! Recycling carbon (gasification) instead of introducing it (fossil fuels) is a more sustainable way to produce energy. 

More on Biomass Gasification:
I have gotten a little mail with other instructables users requesting that I explain the basic process of gasification and how I arrived at my design(s). The flammable gases produced from the gasification process are Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Gas, and Methane Gas. Carbon char reacts with water vapor in the presence of heat (surpassing activation energies and enabling reactions to occur) in an environment with a small controlled amount of oxygen. Normally, hydrocarbons or other fuels burn completely, producing Carbon Dioxide and kicking up alot of particles into the air, burning violently (smoke). When oxygen is controlled, a "partial combustion" occurs and instead of the production of Carbon Dioxide, intermediate products of combustion appear (the flammable gases). This produces a clean, efficient, long burn leaving ashes behind in what would have normally been kicked up as smoke particles as well as a stream of flammable gases that can be used. The designs that I came up with were a result of researching "gasifier camp stoves" and designs for car gasifiers. I could not at the time obtain specialized tools to produce required metal bits, so instead I re-purposed some cans and things lying around.

If your Fusion Jr. is not working properly, there are a number of things you can do. Try using thermal grease on the side of the peltier cells facing the "cold" part. Experiment with allowing more/less oxygen into the unit by creating/closing holes. Insulate the core, it might not be getting hot enough. Some woodgas camping stoves use fans to help circulate/suck out oxygen. Try researching designs for woodgas camping stoves of use google images.

Be careful not to burn anything around trees or other flammable material or in an enclosed environment. Use an extended barbecue lighter for igniting the Fusion Jr.! I learned the hard way. I was interviewed by a student at Santa Susana High School to be displayed on the morning announcements but I accidentally cremated his zippo and he posted this video! 

Check back soon for a possible video presentation! Also don't forget to check out my other cool projects (projects such as building a real raygun at home) and youtube channel, and if you like this project, don't forget to vote for it! 
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155 Discussions


7 years ago on Step 6

This is one of the most interesting, well thought out/researched and actually help full Instructable I have seen in a long time. One can see that you know a lot about the subject, and this is something I would like to try on a somewhat bigger scale.
I am in the process in creating a “eco practical” off the grid game ranch in South Africa, and this is part of a solution to two of my biggest problems.
#1 getting rid of the guests and my garbage.
#2 generating electricity.
Any other Ideas from the good citizens of Instructables are welcome.

12 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

I have as a concept a solar powered idea that I'm going to be utilizing with these Peltier - as a proof of concept - One the one side - copper sheet with the hot side attached, on the cooling side a copper sheet with cooling fins, a mister system and fans ... In Arizona (very similar climate to Australia 40+ centigrade temperatures) - It could easily push 200+ degrees on the copper plate hot side and cool with misting and fans down to make it the 68 degree temperature differentiation that would provide the max amount of wattage from the devices... an array of 30 of these (90-138.6watt versions) can be found cheap and would push anywhere from 2 to 4 Kwh of electricity on a good day.... modify to attach to a gasifier for times of cooler weather or cloudy days and you could easily generate enough electricity to power a house (in az running the a/c at 75 degrees).... That's my thoughts as to how to make these more efficient without using ice...
To the author: Can you specify what your temperature differences are and the output of your peltier devices at the temperature differences so we can get better estimates on what we can expect to see in a real life application?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

There is another solution for converting heat directly to electricity you may have not considered. It uses a principle called the "ceibek" (I may be misspelling it) effect. How this works is you can take almost any dissimilar metals in direct contact with each other and subject one half to a higher temperature than the other and a current will be produced. One good example is to take a steel or iron bolt and tightly wrap copper wire around about 2/3 of the bolt then place the 1/3 bare portion of bolt or rod on a hot surface. Even a few degrees differential will produce current. I can't remember the math involved to calculate expected output based on temperature differential and mated surface area between the two metals. Some experiments would tell you what two metals give the best results. This method is still popular in countries where cabins too far from the grid combined with weather patterns not suitable for either wind or solar power such as the mountains of Switzerland. If I can find the paperwork I have on it, I will scan the pages and post them somewhere, when I first heard about it in 1996 I sent a query out on a news group and got a reply asking for a mailing address. Without thinking I replied with my address and forgot about it. About 6 weeks later I got a very thick manila legal sized envelope from a university in Belgium. When I opened it I found about 100 pages of formulas, research results, metallurgical test results, current real world uses, etc. A little simple bit of testing showed me it worked and if I remember correctly the research paper said up to 17 or 18 percent efficiency had been realized in a lab setting with real world applications around 11 or 12 percent efficient being typical. Hope this helps folks. regards, Dave


Reply 2 years ago

You mean Seebeck - which is exactly the inverse (but basically the same thing) of the Peltier. Look them both up on Wikipedia.


Reply 3 years ago

I've also used this method to power a small coil of ferromagnetic material which just barely interfered with the reading on my magnetic compass around which the coil was wrapped. Pretty fascinating, especially since I was using my braces and an antique spoon to do so. Maybe I should put it onto YouTube...


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


This page explains the process as well as the formulas.
It is known as the "seebeck" effects.


Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

I was thinking in the same line, for on my farm it can reach up to 40 Deg Celsius (104 Fahrenheit or 313 Kelvin) in the day time.
As we all know refrigeration, cooking and water heating for showers are the main consumers. So this is what I am concentrating on.

Shower water is easy with solar heating system (maybe need gas for supplement)

Cooking is possible with solar devises but not all practical and not usable “indoors” so gas will have to do (For now).

Refrigeration, now this is what I want to concentrate on here. Solar panels with a battery system will work but batteries are hi maintenance and the right batteries are “hi cost”.

So this is my Idea and would like to know any comment from you guys where one may make it more efficient. This is still in Idea form so don’t judge me to loudly LOL
Two copper plates separated with spacers for water to flow between and painted black on the outside mounted on the roof. Water pipes running (as short as possible and insulated) down to my fridge (standard with all working parts removed). Mount Peltier cells inside the fridge with “warm side” protruding to the outside.
The “hot side” of the Peltier’s will be heated by the hot water from the roof, creating a current to run #1 a fan inside the fridge and #2 a small circulation pump to circulate the water.
The problem is to get the fridge cold in the first place to start the action. The fridge being an insulated and mainly closed unit could be started with ice or frozen anything. This should get the cycle going. Maybe even have an additional Cold water system running inside the fridge.
Now that I actually sit and type this from my thoughts it is sounding a bit like perpetual motion, even the fact that the sun is providing energy.

Maybe have Peltier cells on the copper plate powering Pelrier cells in the fridge, to replace the water piping system and using a water system to cool the Peltier cells on the roof and in the fridge.

Maybe even have an additional Cold water system running inside the fridge.
Let me know what you guys are thinking, remember its only an Idea and from here We can work.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

The problem with using peltiers with the fridge is that you are still dumping heat from the sun into the fridge, after they have passed through the peltier
In fact you are mostly dumping sun heat into the fridge outright after a small amount of heat has been converted into electricity by the peltiers

You need a definite place for the heat coming out of the peltiers to go, somehow getting it into the ground would be a good place to start


Reply 3 years ago

Your sentence structure here made me LOL:

"#1 getting rid of the guests and my garbage."

It reads like you want to use this to get rid of the guests, and also your garbage. That struck me as pretty dang funny. Thanks for the laugh. :)

Ole ballyJohan8335

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

HI Johann, please have a look at Henry Moray 'a sea of energy' on the net as well as Tesla...man if it can work on a big enough scale...power for free!!
Actually I invite anyone to have a look and see if this can be done for real...just where I am in Zim it's a real bind to get the stuff in!


3 years ago

(Robert Eckdale is my Grandfather's name, not mine. Just so we're clear. He deserves the Credit for that quote. Just so we're clear - just so we're clear.)


3 years ago

Awesome! This will definitely help me with my self-sufficient mobile home project! I am by no means a greenie, which makes me appreciate actual sciences such as this. (Don't get me wrong, I completely respect that livelihood, I just don't respect people that use pseudo sciences such as "Global Warming" and "Greenhouse Gas" as a way to make money (Ahem Al Gore). I do however believe in preserving the natural world through disposing of wastes efficiently and effectively; I am an Alaskan after all.

But as you said that even some Plastics are useable with this Reactor along with other forms of garbage, I completely have to agree that this method of creating energy is the best I've heard of. Powering a Cabin with this science would/will solve a lot of problems plaguing us up here. No more Gasoline Generators, etc. Just chop down some firewood and throw that annoying brush into this Generator, I can power my essential electric components.

You have brought Light into the Darkness my Friend. I mean that literally, too! Up North in Barrow, the sun doesn't rise for about 65 days! Sorry Einstein, Solar Power doesn't work well up there. (For those who don't know, Einstein theorized Photovoltaic Materials decades before anyone even thought of generating power with them. Don't worry, Einstein is laughing with me.) This science could be the next great step toward a perfectly efficient cycle of: Power to Manufacturer, Manufacturer to Household, Household to Garbage, Garbage to Power. Everything was very well researched, presented with great and almost perfect linguistic format, and overall a new revolution in the use of garbage and generation of power! Keep it up, and maybe someday, we'll see your name and face on every major power company of the future. I'd pay you, but I've only got fish. I don't think the Bank will put Fish onto my PayPal Account, so I'll just spread the word as best possible in order to make this a reality. It'll take a long time, but if more people know, then even if the percentage of people knowing such information remains the same, the Amount of people who know this is what is going to count. So hold onto it, never let it go. Continue to learn as much as you can. As my Grandfather told me,

"We know nothing compared to the vast sea of Knowledge out there, but what little we can learn will count toward our future."

-Robert Eckdale,

Loved and Missed


7 years ago on Step 6

I would love to see someone do a " Solar Steam Trubine" using a Fresnel lens. I think it could be really amazing, and I think you might be the guy to do it.

2 replies

I was looking into using fresnel lenses, but I don't have much money, and one of the downsides of fresnel lenses is that their performance deteriorates (since it is made of plastic, and plastic + sun = bad). But I will do some experimentation in the future

Originally light houses used GLASS Fresnel lenses and these type were far more efficient than modern cheap plastic ones. I don't remember what temperatures they could withstand but it should be about the same as leaded glass so there should be no issue with your proposed use. Hope this info is useful.