100 Million Degrees Celsius, and Building (your own) Star in a Bottle: Lighting the Way Towards a Green Energy Future

Institution: Carleton University
Category: Faculty of Engineering and Design
Language: English

Course Description

This course is designed to spark the curiosity of students in advanced STEM work, scientific exploration, and green energy.
In this mini-course, students will build their own fusors; a simple, but functional fusion experiment, while learning about the basics of plasma science, the nucleus, fusion, and its potential for green power generation as well as design and construction of experimental apparatuses.

This course has three specific goals:
1. To introduce the students to, and give them a level-appropriate taste of, work in a in a field that typically takes at least an undergraduate degree to gain experience in.
2. To inspire students to change the way they might think about scientific experiments, apparatus, research, and their abilities by taking something that seems daunting and inaccessible, and making it manageable and attainable.
3. To provide an opportunity to explore an avenue of green energy solutions at the cutting edge of technology with the potential to change the way we view power generation.

Students will be provided the equipment required to build a palm sized fusor and will be given an intuitive introduction to fusion, plasma science, and its current and potential applications.
Building the fusor chamber gives students context to better understand the theory they are learning, while keeping them engaged with hands on work that is progressing towards a defined goal.

The chamber the students will construct will use simple pieces available from plumbing stores.
This design is low cost, and will be safe for anyone to handle.
Once they are finished assembling their apparatus, they will bring their experiment to the instructor (me) where I will hook it up to the vacuum pump, gas supply, and voltage source to turn it on.
Each student will have an opportunity to see their work in action, with the visual excitement of a working plasma source and the information to understand the things happening inside the chamber.
They will be able to take home their micro fusor (without power supply; rendering it inert) as a reminder of their independent accomplishments and a source of inspiration for future work.