Mayo Student Is building a nuclear fusion reactor in his back garden

Posted in Local News on January 19, 2015.

0001TomPaddyMcCarthy14-year-old TOM MCCARTHY, from Mayo, isn’t your typical secondary school student, his hobbies include Basketball, GAA, physics and building a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents’ shed.

This isn’t science fiction the may student plans to crowdfund is dream of builing a reactor.

Tom said “ I have a huge interest in Maths and Physics, especially the field of Nuclear Physics. The type of fusion reactor that I want to build is called a Fusor, I came across this type of reactor a year ago, when watching a video video about another teenager who had built his own one. The idea of building my own Fusor immediately captured my imagination. Since then, I have spent hundreds of hours researching the equipment, mechanics and key concepts involved in a Fusor”.

The video was of  US teenager Taylor Wilson who built what’s known as a fusor – a kind of small nuclear reactor which shows that fusion is happening and which would fit comfortably inside a room.

He started reseaching the equipment, the mechanics and concepts of how he could build his fusor. Tom had several months of free time ahead of him an thought  that this was the best time to start constructing the reactor.

After that, he got help from his uncle, Professor Tommie McCarthy who is a professor of biochemistry in UCC, who helped him put together a proposal and put him in touch with other people who could help him out. His uncle also helped him set up a website .

Speaking on the Ryan Tubridy show this morning, Tubridy asked him  why he wanted to build a nuclear fusion reactor in his family’s back garden, he said it was for “power generation” and part of a five-year plan to expand into energy generation.

 he said that such a project has never been constructed before – and he wants to see if he can make it a reality. “There’s a type of generator that’s never been built before. It’s been theorised. I think I can do it and I hope I can anyways as it would be really great.”

Tom is trying to rise the money to fund the project through a crowdfunding website, the site which works basically where people donate towards the projects target budget, in this case the target is €10,000, tom explains

“I’m trying to raise €10,000 for it. I’m on a crowdfunding site on Gogo and I have a website To date, I’ve raised nearly €5,000 so I’m halfway there.  He went on to outline the difference between what he is attempting to build and the stigmas and fears that poeple tink of when the topic of nuclear power is discussed.

 “People aren’t too crazy about nuclear power currently, especially after events like Fukushima and Chernobyl,” he explains.

But the method that I want to develop would mean nuclear power with no waste and no risk of explosion or radiation fall-out.

Tom wants to see if the fusor can be expanded into a power generating system called a sub-critical generator. He stresses that this isn’t some kind of hypothetical scenario – it hasn’t been constructed before, but the designs are considered safer than current fission designs.

 “I can do it for less than €10,000, it’ll just take a long time. If I get to €6,000, I’ll just drive ahead and do as much as possible”.

Tom is a student at St Gerald’s College in Castlebar, Co Mayo will be sitting his Junior Cert next year  he hopes to study pure maths or theoretical physics at third-level when he finishes school. He hopes to have the fusor project up and running before he starts back at school in september.

If you want to help Tom out, you can donate

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