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The VCU Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusor Senior Design Project provides Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with a mobile fusor complete with the necessary shielding to protect operators as well as the general public from potentially hazardous radiation. The VCU IEC fusor is a Farnsworth-Hirsch type reactor, and consists of five basic components; a high voltage power supply, vacuum system, gas regulation system, primary reactor vessel assembly, and radiation shielding. These components were serviced and reassembled on a customized mobile cart. In addition to these components, a specimen holder and viewing monitor were added to the design. The specimen holder provides a practical method for neutron activation experiments, while the viewing monitor allows for safer visualization and operation of the fusor.

An engineered cart provides the operator easy transportation of the shielding, fusor, and necessary components. The shielding consists of layers of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Borated Polyethylene (BPE), and lead to minimize radiation dose exposure to limits acceptable by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). A camera inside the shielding is connected to a display monitor in order to provide a visual depiction of the deuterium ionization and fusion process. This allows operators and audiences to view the internal workings of the fusor from a safe distance. Lastly, an operator’s manual has been drafted to assist future operators with running the fusor. With these additions to the existing design, the fusor assembly serves as a vital asset for researchers, as well as an educational tool for students and teachers.

Publication Date



fusor, radiation shielding, neutron activation, Farnsworth-Hirsch


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Sama Bilbao Y Leon

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

James Miller

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

May 2018

IEC Fusor Mobile Shielding Unit