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A Nuclear Reactor in Your Kitchen is a Bad Idea

By - Source: Tecca | B 47 comments

Would you have known that building your own private nuclear reactor in your home could be against the law?

A 31-year old man in Sweden had no idea, but was at least in doubt, which is why he called local authorities to make sure. The man, whose name was withheld, constructed an apparently functional reactor in the kitchen of his apartment, kept track of radiation levels using his own Geiger counter, blogged about his project, and eventually inquired about possible legal issues.

The authorities had an issue with the project and arrested the nuclear enthusiast on the spot. According to media reports, he succeeded in building a functional reactor, but was far away from producing electricity, which would have required a turbine and generator. However, he did have access to nuclear materials, which he acquired "overseas" and by disassembling a fire alarm. His teenage dream of operating his own nuclear reactor became a reality for the expense of about $950.

He was released from jail when he promised not to build another reactor. His equipment was confiscated.

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Top Comments
  • 47 Hide
    plznote , August 4, 2011 2:39 AM
    They should reward him. We need more creative people.
  • 38 Hide
    Cygnus x-1 , August 4, 2011 2:47 AM
    950 dollars is cheaper than a home heating system where do I sign?
  • 27 Hide
    CKKwan , August 4, 2011 2:54 AM
    I want to install a Nuclear Reactor in my Mother In Law's kicthen as well......
Other Comments
    Display all 47 comments.
  • 47 Hide
    plznote , August 4, 2011 2:39 AM
    They should reward him. We need more creative people.
  • 38 Hide
    Cygnus x-1 , August 4, 2011 2:47 AM
    950 dollars is cheaper than a home heating system where do I sign?
  • 27 Hide
    CKKwan , August 4, 2011 2:54 AM
    I want to install a Nuclear Reactor in my Mother In Law's kicthen as well......
  • 25 Hide
    benikens , August 4, 2011 3:13 AM
    $950??????? that has gotta be worth it, far cheaper then electricity bills.
  • 20 Hide
    christop , August 4, 2011 3:15 AM
    Is there enriched uranium in a fire alarm? He also got some overseas. Can you just pick this stuff up any where. Kinda scary! The guy must be super smart to have pulled that off. I wonder how he was keeping it cool the fridge or water out of the tap. I would like to see a pic of this but I am sure we will never see it cause one of us Tom's reader will make an overclocked version of a reactor.
  • 12 Hide
    bebangs , August 4, 2011 3:25 AM
    you could just buy a nuclear reactor online!?!?!
  • 10 Hide
    mortsmi7 , August 4, 2011 3:29 AM
    He's lucky he got off as easy as he did. They probably decided that there was no way in hell he'd be able to pay the fines associated with improper use/control of nuclear material and the extraordinary amount of paperwork to document the incident.
  • 26 Hide
    dimar , August 4, 2011 3:32 AM
    Should have built nuclear PC power suppl, and let Tom's benchmark it for power/efficiency:-)




  • 17 Hide
    Hellbound , August 4, 2011 3:38 AM
    I guess the microwave wasnt good enough....
  • 5 Hide
    opmopadop , August 4, 2011 3:40 AM
    There is a youtube post somewhere, look for "Nuclear Boy Scout"
  • 20 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , August 4, 2011 3:44 AM
    Apparently this isn't all that hard. There have been others in the past that have done this (but haven't been as careful).
    You can even make plutonium this way- as a couple of students about 5+ years back found when they produced it in a garden shed.

    By the way- for all those who are wondering the metal in a smoke alarm (an ionization one) is called Americium-241.
    It's radioactive, though there is a very small amount of it inside the detector. It's also quite 'safe' (unless it gets inside you) since it deacys via alpha radiation (paper stops it).
    It's suitable for nuclear reactors, hence why it was used.

    Remember- there are no secrets in science.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2011 3:49 AM
    You dont need uranium to make a fission reaction, there are plenty of other elements that will do the trick. Smoke detectors commonly contain an isotope of Americium, and other fissionable elements are not difficult to find, the hard part comes in making them pure and efficient enough to be useful.
  • 13 Hide
    SmileyTPB1 , August 4, 2011 3:56 AM
    That is simply awesome!

    950$ is way cheaper that what they are charging to install solar panels here is So Cal. He should start his own DIY business..
  • 6 Hide
    wiyosaya , August 4, 2011 4:41 AM
    elitemarksmanYou dont need uranium to make a fission reaction, there are plenty of other elements that will do the trick. Smoke detectors commonly contain an isotope of Americium, and other fissionable elements are not difficult to find, the hard part comes in making them pure and efficient enough to be useful.

    Which basically means the guy was really, really far from making electricity, and his reactor was questionable. Obviously, he could not have made a bomb, so I find it rather disturbing the "authorities" would take his science project away from him. They probably did that because the "authorities" were clueless.
    plznoteThey should reward him. We need more creative people.

    I agree. In Darwin's days, there was a lot of good science that went on in the homes of "ordinary" people. Darwin's lab was in his home. These days, though, with the extreme paranoia that exists, it is difficult for the scientifically inclined to get chemicals from legitimate sources since the assumption is that you are either a terrorist, or do not know sufficiently what you are doing so that even if you are not a terrorist, you are likely to blow up your neighborhood. Its a real PITA, and it almost certainly stifles creativity. I would really like to know when everyone will get over the shock of a few deranged people and let the truly creative types do what they do best - create!! :( 
  • 3 Hide
    leandrodafontoura , August 4, 2011 4:46 AM
    there are way better things to do in Sweden....
  • 9 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 4, 2011 4:46 AM
    Maybe I'll give him +1 for actually having the balls to do it. This must have happened in Europe or Russia though. Would never happen in the US. Too many morons.
  • 3 Hide
    reprotected , August 4, 2011 4:53 AM
    mlopinto2k1Yeah, this guy is so smart, he built the device and then contacted authorities afterwards. What a dip shit. I won't even give him credit for pulling it off. There are tons of DIY websites for making your own reactor.

    Its like if I found counterfeit money, but I just cannot tell if it's real or fake. Do I keep it and spend it, or do I confirm it in a bank/wherever if it is real or fake? This guy went to the authorities to confirm if he can keep it and not get into any further legal issues than what they would have done with him if they caught him. This situation is exactly like Phineas and Ferb (if you know the show).
  • 12 Hide
    FloKid , August 4, 2011 5:09 AM
    He asked the authorities to soon, he should have built a turbine first :) 
  • 5 Hide
    razor512 , August 4, 2011 5:16 AM
    Someone needs to build a mini reactor that can fit in a mp3 player or smartphone. Imagine how long you could go between charges. Just think of the possibilities, you could run flash in the mobile browser with out having to keep the smartphone on the charger.
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