Nuclear fusion is what the sun does. The son takes two hydrogen atoms and pushes them together. The resultant reaction generates a new atom called helium and gives off energy. Gravity plays a huge part in containing the energy. Scientists have talked about nuclear fusion for years. This is the definition of clean energy. Unfortunately, the question that has haunted scientists has been how to contain the reaction. As far as I know, we cannot generate the kind of gravitational forces necessary to contain a fusion reaction here on earth. There have been ideas for developing some sort of electromagnetic bubble to contain the reaction. Well, an entrepreneur has come up with a way to make a small nuclear fusion reaction in his basement (he really did it in a warehouse).

From the BBC:

Many might be alarmed to learn of a homemade nuclear reactor being built next door. But what if this form of extreme DIY could help solve the world’s energy crisis?

By day, Mark Suppes is a web developer for fashion giant Gucci. By night, he cycles to a New York warehouse and tinkers with his own nuclear fusion reactor.

The warehouse is a non-descript building on a tree-lined Brooklyn street, across the road from blocks of apartments, with a grocery store on one corner. But in reality, it is a lab.

In a hired workshop on the third floor, a high-pitched buzz emanates from a corner dotted with metal scraps and ominous-looking machinery, as Mr Suppes fires up his device and searches for the answer to a question that has eluded some of the finest scientific minds on the planet.

The problem is, no-one has found a way of making fusion reactors produce more energy than they consume to run.

In nuclear fusion, atoms are forcibly joined, releasing energy. It is, say scientists, the “holy grail” of energy production – completely clean and cheap.

The problem is, no-one has found a way of making fusion reactors produce more energy than they consume to run.

Mr Suppes, 32, is part of a growing community of “fusioneers” – amateur science junkies who are building homemade fusion reactors, for fun and with an eye to being part of the solution to that problem.

He is the 38th independent amateur physicist in the world to achieve nuclear fusion from a homemade reactor, according to community site Fusor.net. Others on the list include a 15-year-old from Michigan and a doctoral student in Ohio. (more…)