Teenage boy becomes the youngest person to build a working nuclear fusion reactor

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The machine (pictured) was built from customised vacuums, pumps and chambers bought on eBay by his parents. it was built using parts and expertise attained online 


Boy, 14, becomes the youngest person to build a working nuclear fusion reactor in his BEDROOM using $10,000 worth of spare parts from eBay bought by his parents

  • Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, achieved nuclear fusion at the age of 12 
  • He built the machine from vacuums, pumps and chambers bought on eBay  
  • His findings were verified by an online forum of amateur physicists  

A 14-year-old schoolboy has successfully made a nuclear fusion reactor in his family’s spare room. 

Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, is believed to be the youngest person to build a functioning nuclear fusion reactor when he first accomplished the feat aged 12. 

The machine was built from customised vacuums, pumps and chambers bought on eBay by his parents – costing the family a total of $10,000. 

His contraption smashes together atoms with enough force to fuse them into one and this process releases energy trapped inside the atoms.  

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The machine (pictured) was built from customised vacuums, pumps and chambers bought on eBay by his parents. it was built using parts and expertise attained online 

Jackson Oswalt (pictured), from Memphis, is believed to be the youngest person to build a functioning nuclear fusion reactor when he first accomplished the feat aged 12

Jackson Oswalt (pictured), from Memphis, is believed to be the youngest person to build a functioning nuclear fusion reactor when he first accomplished the feat aged 12

Information on how to build the machine was found online and on January 19 last year, mere hours before his 13th birthday, nuclear fusion was successful. 

The previous record for the youngest successful mastermind behind a nuclear fusion reactor was held by Taylor Wilson, who achieved it aged 14. 

He told Fox News: ‘The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors.  

‘After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. [I] got those parts off eBay primarily and then often times the parts that I managed to scrounge off of eBay weren’t exactly what I needed.

‘So, I’d have to modify them to be able to do what I needed to do for my project.’

Deuterium gas – an isotope of hydrogen – is heated in a plasma core with 50,000 volts of electricity within a vacuum chamber to force the atoms together. 

The contraption smashes together atoms with enough force to fuse them into one and create vast amounts of energy and was built in a converted bedroom. Deuterium gas - an isotope of hydrogen - is heated in a plasma core with 50,000 volts of electricity

The contraption smashes together atoms with enough force to fuse them into one and create vast amounts of energy and was built in a converted bedroom. Deuterium gas – an isotope of hydrogen – is heated in a plasma core with 50,000 volts of electricity

HOW DOES A NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR WORK?

Fusion is the process by which a gas is heated up and separated into its constituent ions and electrons. 

It involves light elements, such as hydrogen, smashing together to form heavier elements, such as helium. 

For fusion to occur, hydrogen atoms are placed under high heat and pressure until they fuse together.

When deuterium and tritium nuclei – which can be found in hydrogen – fuse, they form a helium nucleus, a neutron and a lot of energy.

This is done by heating the fuel to temperatures in excess of 150 million°C and forming a hot plasma, a gaseous soup of subatomic particles.

Strong magnetic fields are used to keep the plasma away from the reactor’s walls, so that it doesn’t cool down and lose its energy potential.

These fields are produced by superconducting coils surrounding the vessel and by an electrical current driven through the plasma.

For energy production, plasma has to be confined for a sufficiently long period for fusion to occur.

When ions get hot enough, they can overcome their mutual repulsion and collide, fusing together. 

When this happens, they release around one million times more energy than a chemical reaction and three to four times more than a conventional nuclear fission reactor.

A similar process, albeit on a far larger scale, is what powers the sun. 

This enormous voltage is an energy intensive process which, Jackson admits, takes in more energy than it produces.  

The commercial viability of nuclear fusion as a source of electricity remains to be accomplished as all previous attempts are also energy pits. 

Jackson says this flaw is ‘why I’m not a billionaire’.  

The commercial viability of nuclear fusion as a source of electricity remains to be accomplished as all previous attempts are also energy its. Jackson pictured) says this flaw is 'why I'm not a billionaire'

The commercial viability of nuclear fusion as a source of electricity remains to be accomplished as all previous attempts are also energy its. Jackson pictured) says this flaw is ‘why I’m not a billionaire’

His parents funded the year-long endeavour, which they say took 'everyday grinding', but admit to knowing little about the undertaking. They spent up to $10,000 funding the project 

His parents funded the year-long endeavour, which they say took ‘everyday grinding’, but admit to knowing little about the undertaking. They spent up to $10,000 funding the project 

The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium is an online forum for amateur physicists. 

Jackson used this platform to seek advice and learn how to create his reactor.  

His parents funded the year-long endeavour, which they say took ‘everyday grinding’, but admit to knowing little about the undertaking. 

Jackson’s father, Chris, said he allowed his son to work on the project but ensured his safety by having experts speak to Jackson to educate him about the hazards working with radiation and thousands of volts of electricity poses. 

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