A former contractor to U.S. security services has built his own nuclear fusion reactor in the basement of his own home. Engineer Doug Coulter was once a ‘Beltway bandit’ – a term for private companies located in or near Washington that provide services to the government – making signal processing and radio gadgets.
Now he lives in a remote area of North Virginia and works as a gunsmith, posting his creations in his very popular engineering forum online.
Doug Coulter has built a nuclear fusion reactor in his basement.
It is made up of many parts from many different salvaged machines. Including the cooling fan off of a computer.
But his most incredible creation is a nuclear fusion reactor, which sits inside his ‘box full of creative chaos’, as he calls the workshop in the basement of the house he built himself. He has created the reactor by hand, using components from other gadgets. Mr Coulter, who has been chronicled in a documentary by Motherboard, said: ‘I learned to do electrical engineering from parts scavenged from dumpsters from behind the TV store. I had to learn to design things with what I had.’ ‘We started with parts designed to do something else. This is one of our cooling fans, it came out of a computer system.’
Many scientists believe nuclear fusion is one of the most promising options for generating large amounts of carbon-free energy in the future.
Fusion is the process that heats the Sun and all other stars, where atomic nuclei collide together and release energy. Fusion scientists and engineers are developing the technology to use this process in tomorrow’s power stations, but so far there is no viable model. He said: ‘This has the power to replace all the electricity companies on the planet, all of the gasoline companies on the planet.
‘The Holy Grail of fusion is to make this into a viable power source.’
He laughs off concerns about radiation leaks. ‘There’s a lot of seconds were we get no radiation,’ he said. ‘This is actually one of the most radiation-quiet places on this planet. ‘This is what I do for fun and giggles.’Coulter is also a champion of sharing information, using his forum to share technological secrets with a like-minded community, including how to build guns and make ammunition.