Nuclear Fusor Science Project

Hello! My name is Nataly and I am in the 7th grade. I was reading your biography and it was really impressive! I am really interested in being a Nuclear Engineer when I grow up. This year for my Science fair I am interested in making a Nuclear fuser. Are there any tips or advice that you could give me?

Thank you and have a great day,

Nataly
posted by Nataly, Winder,GA on January 7, 2014

Answer by Ms. Sara Dolatshahi

I am sorry for the late response Nataly - I hope I am not too late.  

First off, I'd like to say that I am honored by your question and excited to see that you are interested in becoming a nuclear Engineer.  Engineering is a rewarding career.  It builds a strong foundation for anything you choose to do with it later in life. I chose to use my nuclear engineering background to help me run a nuclear power plant to produce electricity; a leadership role rather than research and development or academic one.  

Your science fair topic on a nuclear fusor is an intriguing topic, which unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to get involved in much. In a nuclear reactor we currently use a process called fission (as oppose to fusion), which is splitting a nucleus of a uranium fuel using neutrons to make electricity.  In fusion, the process is opposite.  The nucleus of two light atoms are fused together to produce a heavier atom and large amount of energy.  However, the fusion process has not yet been developed enough to use it on a large industrial scale. 

There are many good websites and publications that can help you learn more about fusion in general like: 

  • fusionfuture.net
  • US Department of Energy website on fusion
  • Plasma Science and Fusion Center(PSFC) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has good publications on plasma physics and nuclear fusion.  
  • coldfusionnow.org
  • And of course Wikipedia. 

Also, please note that there is still a lot of research that needs to be completed in this area before we can use them on a large scale.  We need people like yourself to help with this research and to make it happen - it is an exciting field. 

Please keep up your excellent work and feel free to send me a note if you have any other questions.  

Regards,

Sara Dolatshahi