Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

This forum is for specialized infomation important to the construction and safe operation of the high voltage electrical supplies and related circuitry needed for fusor operation.
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Jim Kovalchick
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:15 am

Frank,
This is terrible news. Over exposure of a private citizen experimenter can have some very broad reaching implications. While I consider it no different than an automobile enthusiast injuring themselves with gasoline, radiation is so feared by the typically ill informed American, that news like this will cause fanatical government intervention.

I am especially fearful for the many teenagers who show up here wanting to build a fusion device. The initiative of these kids sometimes outreaches their knowledge on how to protect themselves from both electrical and radiation hazards, and the radiation piece is most scary to me because it is not as intuitive. The creation of breaking radiation from material that isn't naturally radioactive by electron bombardment is an invisible concept.

I can't stress enough my personal belief that no one should attempt to build one of these devices without first thoroughly researching how to protect themselves, and no minor should be permitted by a parent or science fair authority to work with this technology without a documented safety plan and a qualified mentor.

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Frank Sanns
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Frank Sanns » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:23 pm

Jim,

I agree with you. There are many dangers that some neophytes may have no idea about. For me, I think a person would be a fool to run any more that 15 KV and 10 ma to start out if it were a metal shell fusor with a sight glass. Without site glass, I still would not go much higher without extensive continuous radiological survey and/or shielding the fusor or significant distance to the fusor. Even though the shell offers protection, x-ray beams can come out of weld areas and flange areas at voltages below ~~40 KV where the metal shell begins to become transparent. I see posts of people asking about the size of the power supply that the need before they have ever understood the implications and this scares me. My recommendation has always been to keep the voltage low even for my own work. I am not looking to set records but to do science. With good neutron detection, this can be done with modest voltage and currents that pretty much ensures that no exposures will ever even be possible.

I did not put the original video up for the purpose of radiation but I also have had a few emails over the last couple of years with people asking if big beefy x-ray transformers would be enough power to do fusion. It came from some FAQ or some other posts where Richard and I and a few others were posting about minimum and reasonable voltages and currents to do fusion. If a little is good, more is better and great excess is even better seems to be some of the new combers thoughts. Hopefully it was only a phase and none of these ephemeral posters ever got that far.

Frank Sanns

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Dennis P Brown » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:58 pm

I have often told newbie's to worry about both HV and X-rays and that using FAQ's to learn about both the dangers and how-to's is critical.

Not long ago I wrote about a cheap, non-toxic and fully insulating radiation-shielding material - slate; I use it to shield for X-rays.

It has little water content so does not cause electric field issues for my accelerator and besides being an excellent radiation shielding material (higher density than granite), it is a good electrical insulator (can't say the same for Pb.) Also, a dry abrasive saw will cut complex shapes and glue holds pieces together very well. Comes in large square sizes that are easy to handle and is ultra cheap. Also, disposal of it is simple since it is not a hazard material - just throw it out.

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Mike Beauford
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Mike Beauford » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:19 pm

Dennis,

How much slate is required to get adequate shielding for operating a 40Kv fusor?

Mike Beauford
Mike Beauford

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Carl Willis
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Carl Willis » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:24 pm

"Radiation sickness?" Yeah right.

If someone is genuinely suffering from deterministic radiation health effects from activities that follow in the vein of what this site is about, then it's important to talk about the specifics in order that the issues are understood. Not to heap on blame or scold, but to first and foremost, to simply understand. I, for one, do NOT understand how activities like those characteristic of hobby fusion discussed here can result in "radiation sickness". Doses higher than are recommended? Sure. Burns? Within the realm of possibility, I suppose. But acute radiation sickness, implying leukopenia and possibly GI symptoms, only results from irradiation of substantially the whole body with very penetrating radiation that can damage bone marrow and intestinal cells. X-rays from fusors or typical high-voltage experiments or x-ray machines won't do this (well, I suppose they can, but it would only occur long after burning one's entire skin off).

Every other time the spectre of radiation sickness has come up, it's not been credible. Most frequently, it's been some pompous clown who I think mentions this to implicitly suggest he's got an unusually-successful machine, without any other evidence supporting that assertion. And I think some other people are victims of the power of suggestion, believing from erroneous or minimal understanding of the relevant biology that malaise following an experiment is attributable to radiation. Radiation, of course, is widely feared.

Real instances of radiation sickness are rare almost to the vanishing point. Suspected radiation sickness is probably reportable to state or national authorities anywhere it occurs, and public investigations will probably follow. That's because society has a compelling interest in preventing the conditions out of which this health outcome arises. And similarly, in this community, we need to understand the details of suspected injuries in order that we all can continue to engage productively in the hobby. I hope we can either get a useful disclosure about this incident, or write it off as one of the aforementioned false alarms.

-Carl
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Jim Kovalchick
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:49 pm

Carl,
As always you make a lot of sense. I too think that the possibility of using a fusor to give someone radiation sickness is very remote, and it would require a device well beyond the capability of most power supplies used by forum members.

I do think we should use the opportunity to stress that high voltage power supplies require a certain level of responsibility during use. The implications of electrocution are already well presented here, but the idea that a fusor can become more of an x-ray machine than a neutron source from a dose sense with voltages and currents that some do use here is not always accounted. Radiation hazards are not well understood by the general public, and as soon the under informed think that folks are getting 'dosed' by these devices, people will stop letting teenagers learn from them. There is simply no reason why a 16 year old kid should be getting any radiation exposure when it can be reasonably avoided with the proper precautions, but when you have teenagers operating fusors at -70 kV without any shielding besides the chamber and ports and camera ccd's that twinkle with the rad levels, then I'm not sure that exposing body parts to that is the right place to be.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:10 pm

I'm 100% with Carl on this one. Radiation Sickness? Give me a large personal break.

I doubt if I could purposely design a device that could cause major blood issues and GI issues commonly associated with dangerous whole body exposure.

100KV of direct whole body or entire upper torso x-rays for long continuous periods would surely do it, but working on a fusor? No, I'm sorry.

Until a full exposition of the case in point is made it is not to be considered a viable reality. I can imagine someone on this list in the course of their gainful work, should it involve radiation, being so incommoded. But while attempting a fusor.......?

In this case it would have to be the opposite of a fusion win we all seek with the "lucky donkey" that I have so long championed. It would have to be someone so ignorant, so ill-informed, working hard, involving intolerably long run times with voltages far in excess of any ever reported here, who just fashioned the worst possible system imaginable as to fall into the category of the greatest, barely still living, "unlucky donkey".

No specifics, no belief. If specifics are forth coming, it can serve as a great teachable moment in how to not proceed.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Tyler Christensen » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:24 pm

>100KV of direct whole body or entire upper torso x-rays for long continuous periods would surely do it, but working on a fusor? No, I'm sorry.


Such things have happened to member(s) of this forum with reported closely correlated illness. I was not involved in such activities.

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Carl Willis
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Re: Fusor Voltages are Dangerous

Post by Carl Willis » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:04 pm

Huh??

"Reportedly"?

A detailed disclosure is a necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) prerequisite to my believing that anything of the sort ever transpired. Any readers of this thread worried about radiation because of these nebulous assertions should read other threads to get a realistic assessment of the hazards actually documented.

-Carl
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