Page 1 of 1

#2 FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:32 pm
by Richard Hull
No specific FAQ has dealt 100% with costs and costs alone. While there is no fixed sum that will see you actually do fusion, I will attempt to give a background and overview. You will find it is not all about money, but more about you in this ultimate DIY.

CAVEAT: If you are here with the thought of doing real fusion and then extracting any direct, cost effective, usable fusion energy from your finished successful reactor system, then 10 million dollars will not see this done. Why?
1. Because it has never been done.
2. Because it can't be done!
3. Because this is not that kind of effort.

If you want useful fusion energy, you need to make a solar panel! That is a form of conversion of real nuclear fusion based energy into usable electricity with very little money expended compared to this effort. Thus, do not waste your money here on this far more difficult DIY project. The recent Fusor DIY article in "Make" Magazine was a joke and, at best, might be classed as a never fusing, crude, demo fusor. (more on a demo fusor later).

Will the finished amateur fusor do true nuclear fusion? YES! Will there be real fusion energy produced? YES! (About one micro watt of true fusion energy per 1000 watts input) This represents about a billion to one net LOSS of energy. Thus, the fusor is not much different in general effect than the billion dollar jobs that haunt the big boy fusion world. (Less power out than in.) The fusor is millions of times cheaper though and within an advanced amateur's budget. This being said, let us get down to brass tacks....

A Real nuclear fusion reactor (fusor) - costs

A. If you arrive here "naked", that is, with zero mechanical experience, zero nuclear physicics and electronics background and zero in the way of a junk box in any of the disciplines covered in making a fusor and want to do real fusion, it will get expensive. If you also have zero scrounging skills and enter into this as a lark, It will be very expensive! $5,000 might not be enough and I am as serious as a heart attack about this. So leave behind all hope, ye who enter here of "doofusing" your way to nuclear fusion on the cheap.

B. If you have the "right stuff", "pack the gear", have the guts and verve to undertake this major venture, you have a huge leg up. If, in addition, you have some scrounging skills and a decent to moderate understanding of what is involved coupled with some working knowledge in physics and electrical/electronics work then the price starts going down based on any and all of these skill sets. $1,500 to $2,000 might see it built, but only maybe.

C. If in addition to "B" above you are also a "vacuum head" and have a suitable vacuum system or if you are in ham radio or are an electronics nut or an amateur scientist, all with good scrap or junk boxes, $1,200 might be doable.

The best of the best amateur science physics folks, usually older working folks, who have a good shop/lab with machine tools and welding skills, plus all of those attributes in paragraphs B and C might be looking at $600. - $800 to make a working fusor. I figure that among the general public, maybe 1 in 50,000 such individuals may exist! Such folks are just not turned out like this anymore. Some of the the younger folks landing on this site might be part of a future cadre of such people, but that will be up to them, long term.

If after reading the above you ask, "Why should I do this?", you are already indicating you do not pack the gear needed to do this and should move on to a lesser DIY project.

A Demo Fusor -costs

The above estimates assumes you want to do real fusion and intend to see it through. There is another path for the very young working on a science fair project or who want more experience with plasmas and the workings of a fusor. That path is a "demo fusor". This is a look-alike and work-alike fusor. A demo fusor will not do fusion, but will look and act like one. The costs here can be very low, especially if you are a great scrounger and can enlist the help of others.

A good demo fusor, that will go no farther than being a demo fusor, can be cobbled up for as little as $100.00, if you are lucky across the board. (note -This is similar to what appeared in "Make" Magazine) It will not look like a fusor at this level, for sure, but it will act like one.

If you want it to look exactly like a classic amateur fusor, it will cost a good bit more as you will need a metal chamber and good vacuum fittings and better power supply. Perhaps $500.00 will see this effort through if you are lucky and very skilled.

****NOTE**** Super Demo.... You can build a demo fusor such that if at the end of your demo operations and tutorial period, an additional expenditure in time and money will see it become a fully functional fusion reactor. Such a demo system might cost between $800 and $2000.00. If you take this super demo route, maybe by this point, you could have acquired more skill sets and wish to push forward to fusion. From here, you may only need a deuterium gas handling system, a diffusion pump and a higher voltage power supply. Such fusor functional additions might add another $800-$2000 and you will be doing real fusion.

All the above are rough estimates! A determined, take no prisoners attitude, large numbers of workable skills sets and deeper scientific knowledge, coupled with useful shop skills can see all the dollar estimates above tumble downward. There are so many ways to make a demo fusor and a real fusor that hard, fixed estimates are only a crap shoot, at best.

Bottom line - For those who must have a dollar range and based on the foregoing.......

A real fusor - Naked doofus on a lark - $10,000+... to.... Savy, older, job having, fully equiped, amateur scientist - $800 - $2000
A demo fusor - For a super demo fusor - $1,200+ .... to..... A glass jar, one-off, crude, simple demo fusor $100-$300

Good luck.

Richard Hull

Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:18 pm
by Erik smith
this is helpful. I think the most costly part of the fusor is the vacuum chamber core. you have to have enough port holes for the feed trough's and you have to make Shure that they are the right size and shape to work with and get fusion.

Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:19 pm
by Richard Hull
Generally speaking, the most costly part of any fusor is the vacuum system, of which, the fusor chamber is also part. 80% of a real fusor investment will go here. The next most costly part would be the neutron detection scheme and last, the power supply.

Richard Hull

Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:08 am
by Nick Peskosky

This is a great synopsis of the cost to pursue neutrons! I'm currently working on an excel sheet that captures almost all of the costs incurred in building my Fusor from start to Neutron Club entry and I'll upload it in the next couple days to give a ball park figure for where cost creeps up on you. From experience, the big ticket items of a Fusor build are:

- Roughing/backing pump
- 2nd Stage High-vacuum pump (diffusion/turbo) and possibly associated controller
- Charge sensitive pre-amplifiers
- Gas filled proportional tubes
- High voltage DC supply

Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 6:29 am
by Richard Hull
We look forward to your listing. Costs for various items will vary wildly from builder to builder based on all the factors listed above, but are much higher for young newbies as they haven't lived a lot of life to accumlate stuff in their spare parts pile. They have not gained hands-on skills or scientific, electronic skills and knowledge of the older folks here. Having a decent job helps a lot, too. This is why no real parts listing is ever given as a forced list of items or costs. It just would be rather useless, in general, and foreboding. Still, ("How much will it cost me to do fusion?"), is one of the most common questions of most all newbies. A question that truly has no real answer.

Richard Hull

Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:30 am
by Nick Peskosky
Linking this FAQ to my cost breakdown thread:


Re: FAQ - Cost of a fusor

Posted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:16 am
by Aditya Bhattad
Nick Peskosky wrote:Linking this FAQ to my cost breakdown thread:

Thanks, Nick! These lists are always helpful, when determining max. amount you want to spend on a component.
Another similar list from Raymond Jimenez's fusor:-