For the common citizen, the word “nuclear” carries a lot of weight, most of it negative. However, when placed in the right hands, many believe that nuclear power can play a major role in establishing a bright, more eco-friendly future. A 16-year-old from New Jersey may be one of those trusted few to make it happen.
Steven Udotong has dreams you wouldn’t expect from your average teenager. While some of us spent out twilight years focused on tryouts and prom dates, Udotong is looking to build his own nuclear fusor.
“A nuclear fusor uses electricity to heat charged atoms to a point where nuclear fusion can occur,” Udotong told The Well. “This happens when lighter nuclei are combined to become heavier nuclei, releasing a large amount of nuclear energy in the process.”
To build the fusor, Udotong has started a GoFundMe campaign where he hoped to raise $1,500 for the parts he’d need, including a vacuum gauge, a radiation detector and a turbo controller. As of this writing, he’s more than reached his goal.
“My objective is to build a nuclear reactor in my home that I can use to advocate clean energy use for my community and nation. I have already made immense progress on this, but I hit a roadblock because I need a few more materials to completely finish my reactor,” Udotong said on the GoFundMe page.
“Nuclear energy shows great promise to drastically reduce our greenhouse emissions and I want to be able demonstrate the potential of this energy in our society and encourage investment into energy sustainability,” he continued. “We only have one Earth and I strongly believe it is important that we maintain it for all future generations as best as we can.”
Udotong is one of five first generation Nigerian-American siblings, all boys, with a single mother. His older brothers attend Harvard, MIT and Princeton. If Steven’s aspirations of working with nuclear energy – as well as his recent acceptance into the Yale Young Global Scholars Program – are any indication, his future will be just as bright, if not even brighter.