Milan Ripa from IPP Prague recounts how he helped a high school student to build a fusor

It all began with a single question: „Is it possible to generate an electric current directly from a plasma?“. Thus wrote high school student Peter Svihra from Martin, Slovakia to IPP Prague. As usual, I sent the answer. More emails followed. One year later Peter asked me to review his report „Thermonuclear Fusion“ and I began to give him advise on his studies. Peter and his schoolmates, Birivan Nabova and Michal Račko were taking part in the Slovak student competition “CASCADE projects 2011”, organised by the University of Zilina. The application included presentation and experimental work and the three students decided to build a fusor machine.

A fusor is a spherical accelerator, which “shoots” hydrogen nuclei into the sphere’s centre fast enough to fuse. In 2006, a US high school student built one of the first fusors as a neutron source, and since then, several fusors have been built by students and other non-scientists.

The Slovak fusor trio reached the final of the CASCADE competition and eventually won second place. The prize was a trip to Prague, where Peter visited the COMPASS tokamak and met Petr Hoffer from IPP Prague, who would also like to build a fusor device.

“We were glad we made the second place. The first prize was a trip to CERN. But we were more interested in the COMPASS tokamak than in the Large Hadron Collider!”

Peter Svihra

The author thanks Jan Mlynar, IPP Prague, for assisting with the translation