[ RadSafe ] Coming soon to a basement near you???????
carl.willis at gmail.com
Thu Jun 14 13:13:35 CDT 2012
I can respond to some of Joe's concerns about the fusion / neutron
generator / particle accelerator hobby. I'm one of the administrators of
the forums at fusor.net, and a "fusioneer" with a decade-plus experience
with this pursuit beginning in my college years.
The high voltages used to accelerate ions in the fusors are indeed quite
dangerous, no doubt the most dangerous aspect of these projects in
general. That said, we've had NO knowledge of any electrical accidents in
the hobby since its inception back in the 1990s. Experienced contributors
to the community always stress the need for the younger and
less-experienced members to seek out mentors and, as appropriate, involve
their parents and teachers in projects in order to ensure sound judgment
Deuterium purchases ARE tracked. Anyone who buys a lecture bottle of
deuterium nowadays will be familiar with the tracking paperwork mandated by
the NRC, documenting intended use and place of use and warning against
export. Additionally, most gas dealers have their own rules about proof of
the adequacy of customers' safety programs.
Neutron shielding is indeed unusual in hobby fusion installations, although
a lot of beginners are under the impression it is the most important aspect
of the project. I usually disagree, stressing the safety advantage of
simply keeping one's distance. A typical well-performing fusor emits 1E+6
to 1E+7 neutrons per second. But fusors are decent x-ray sources and the
x-ray exposure rates can reach several R / hr on the chamber wall,
sometimes higher near viewports. The x-rays are always the more important
safety issue, while the neutrons are an interesting and usually desired
product. People will attempt to make flux traps and other apparatus to
improve the utility of the neutrons for whatever they may be doing.
Finally, numerous state health departments have had contact with hobby
fusion people. No regulatory action has been taken against members of this
community in its nearly 15 years of existence. And out of this hobby come
many young, motivated, and exceptionally experienced enthusiasts who go on
to contribute professionally in the sciences and engineering disciplines.
I suggest that the social benefits far outweigh the limited and
well-controlled risks encountered in the pursuit.
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