Progress on the Houghton College Fusor
Inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) is an approach to controlled nuclear fusion that uses electrostatic fields to confine the plasma. One type of IEC device, similar to the “fusor” design described in the 1968 patent application  by Philo T. Farnsworth, has been constructed at Houghton College. The device consists of two concentric spherical wire mesh electrodes inside a vacuum chamber. A potential of up to -30 kV can be applied to the inner cathode electrode relative to the grounded outer anode electrode. Low pressure gas admitted into the chamber becomes ionized, the positive ions are accelerated towards and fall through the inner negative cathode grid, forming a virtual anode near the center. These ions then oscillate between the outer anode and inner virtual anode. Because of the energies involved, if filled with deuterium gas nuclear fusion reactions would occur. The Houghton College Fusor is currently being modified to prevent sparking at the cathode stalk and configured for remote operation.