Figure 0: Graphic representation of fusion. Source: https://www.rechargenews.com/energy-transition/-our-plasma-electrolysers-will-cut-the-cost-of-green-hydrogen-by-a-factor-of-three-/2-1-1032895
Nuclear fusion is the process that occur in the core of our sun. It is an extremely complex phenomenon capable of releasing incredible amounts of energy. Unlike fission, fusion involves the merging of two atom's nuclei to form a new and bigger one, releasing an incredible amount of energy in the process.
Not only fusion fuels the stars in our universe, but researchers are trying to replicate it on earth, as it can find many applications: replicating this awe-inspiring process in controlled environments could usher in a new era of clean, virtually limitless energy production.
Figure 1: representation of nuclear fission and fusion. Source: https://teckyenergy.com/nuclear-fission-vs-nuclear-fusion-which-produces/
The project i've been working in the last two years is a homemade Hirsch-Meek nuclear fusion reactor. Why? I could say i want to run some experiments on it to learn more on fusion, which is true, but the actual reason that got me into this project is another: simply... its cool... how many people that you know keep a functioning nuclear fusion reactor in their garage?
How does a Hirsch-Meek fusor work?
This model of Hirsch-meek device, uses Inertial-Electrostatic Confinement as a mechanism to achieve fusion. Two charged grids (an inner and an outer one) to form an electrostatic potential. This process will occur in a low-pressure environment, because we need a "free path" for the ions to collide in the inner grid with enough energy to actually fuse. Basing on the electrostatic potential between the two grids and the typology of gas present in the chamber, fusion can be achieved at different levels of intensity -together with different levels of x-ray radiation production (particularly over 40Kv). Therefore, i advice you, in case you want to embark on a project like this, to invest in a geiger counter.
Figure 2: The two grids contained in a Hirsch-Meek Nuclear fusor. Source: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2012/ph241/klopfer2/
The cost of a nuclear fusor can vary widely, ranging from hundreds of dollars to thirteen billion dollars. However, the average Hirsch-Meek fusor can be constructed for less than $1000. It's important to note that the achievement of fusion depends on the voltage potential and vacuum levels (a topic we'll dive deeper into in upcoming posts). Fusion becomes unattainable under certain conditions, and as voltage and vacuum levels increase, the experiment becomes riskier.
To fund the construction of my fusor, which is valued at around $1,500, I received sponsorship from ValvoInox. Intrigued by my project, they generously provided a significant portion of the required materials. Therefore, I extend my gratitude to Mr. Carbonini for his instrumental role in making this endeavor possible!
The Beauty of nuclear fusion
Here, some pictures of working nuclear fusion reactors. Sit back, relax, and delight yourself with the beauty of science.
Picture 3: A star in a Jar. https://rostore.clearance2023.com/category?name=fusor