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The VCU Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusor design project is a multi-year and multi-disciplinary venture. It was started as a means to build a neutron generator for the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering department at VCU. The IEC fusor is a device based on the designs of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the cathode ray tube. Our design utilizes a high voltage cathode located in a vacuum chamber that is filled with deuterium gas. This high voltage accelerates the deuterium particles towards the center of the chamber, resulting in deuterium-deuterium (D-D) fusion. This reaction creates a bright purple glow that can be seen through the viewport in the top of the fusor device. Overall, the fusor device consists of these components: a vacuum pump, turbo molecular pump, deuterium tank, fusor body, and the high voltage power source. This year, additions to the project include a cart to permanently house the fusor device, shielding to protect users from harmful radiation, a microcontroller device to monitor the device during experimentation, and an optimized grid to maximize neutron flux. An actively cooled grid will also be implemented to keep a constant temperature in the chamber, as well as limit deformation of the metal grid. The main goal of these additions is safety and usability for future use as a teaching aid for professors. We aim to make the setup as user friendly as possible, so that it will not be run in unsafe conditions. As of December 2014, all of the plans and preparations have been made so that we can start fabricating the planned systems during the spring 2015 semester. The fusor device itself is already functional, and can be run to produce a very low neutron flux that does not require shielding. All of the necessary tools and funding for the continuation of this project have already been acquired. Our plan is to have all of the additional systems working by May 2015.

Publication Date



engineering, fusion



Faculty Advisor/Mentor

James G. Miller

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Sama Bilbao y León

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Afroditi Filippas

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2015

Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusor

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Engineering Commons