Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Wilbraham resident inducted into Plasma Club

Date: 10/9/2014

WILBRAHAM – William Caruana, chairman of the Broadband Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, was recently inducted into the Plasma Club, an amateur scientist organization with one requirement: proof of creating stable plasma.

Caruana, 25, said the first step in creating the plasma was building a vacuum chamber due to the unstable nature of plasma. The next step involved Caruana adding a neon sign transformer as a power supply and a Variac, which is used to regulate voltage level.

A diode was then used to rectify the voltage and send it into the vacuum as a steady direct current (DC) signal, he added.

“So, it comes in as alternating current, it goes through the transformer, it’s still alternating, and that’s when I rectify it with the diodes. That’s when it becomes a DC because it’s only going one way.”

The creation of plasma is dependent on many factors, including having a DC current, Caruana explained. The high voltage excites the molecules inside the vacuum and the end result is stable plasma.

Without a vacuum, the plasma is unstable, he explained.

Plasma measures between 1.8 million to 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit, he added. The device does not produce any neutrons or generate harmful radiation.

“I’m now creating a smart rectifier where it’s now submerged in oil, it has a temperature sensor, and so if it ever gets to the point where its too hot it’ll automatically shutdown the whole machine and it’ll protect the diodes.”

Caruana said he is building a computer to control and monitor his Farnsworth design Fusor, which has an operational output of about six kilovolts with a maximum limit of 15 kilovolts. Wall outlets have an average output of 120 volts.

Philo Taylor Farnsworth, an American inventor and television pioneer, later in life constructed the design for the small nuclear fusion device, which it is named after.

The total cost of the parts for the Fusor was about $200 to $300, he added. The glass chamber was purchased at Wal-Mart for $10 and the most expensive item, the vacuum pump costs between $150 and $200.

The information regarding the Fusor was submitted to the Open Source Fusion Research Consortium (, where it was peer reviewed by amateur scientists.

The next stage that Caruana said he hopes to achieve is the Neutron Club, which involves proof that real nuclear fusion is taking place. He said it might take another five to 10 years before he reaches that tier.

The initial stage before the plasma club is the scavenger list, which involves finding parts to create a Fusor.

Caruana graduated from Salem State University with a degree in political science and works as an independent political consultant. He has run for a position on the Board of Selectmen twice. The first time he ran, he lost by about 35 votes.

Last year, Caruana ran for Board of Selectmen in a four-way race and lost by roughly 130 votes. He said he could potentially run again in the future.

“I think there’s a big disconnect between scientists and politicians,” he added. “You’ll see that politicians will go to specific scientists for the answer that they want. Instead, I like to come to my own conclusions by reading reports and looking at facts myself.”