Home SCIENCE The DIY Engineer Who Built a Nuclear Reactor in His Basement

The DIY Engineer Who Built a Nuclear Reactor in His Basement

Doug Coulter used to build signal processing and radio gadgets for our favorite three-lettered intelligence agencies, but for the past decade or so, Doug’s chosen to explore his engineering interests in the isolated backwoods of Virginia, absent from any pesky boss or sticky bureaucracy.

image/text credit: Motherboard

After tiring of living with a meth head who had a trigger finger itchier than an Appalachian mosquito bite, Doug gave his ex-housemate the boot and confiscated his weapons, thus paving the way for his new found love for gunsmithing. Doug has since open sourced his gun and ammo making techniques on his well-trafficked engineering forum.

image/text credit: Motherboard

But Doug’s most exciting creation is his guerilla-engineered nuclear fusion reactor. Doug’s pursuit for a limitless source of clean and self-sufficient energy takes place in what he calls his “den of creative chaos,” which is essentially a cluttered workshop in the entrance of his home, directly underneath his bedroom.


The nuclear fusion reactor was made in the basement of his self-built house or, as Coulter refers to it, his ‘box full of creative chaos’.Using the components of other gadgets, he made the reactor completely by hand. Mr. Coulter, chronicled in a documentary by Motherboard, recalls: ‘I learned to do electrical engineering from parts scavenged from dumpsters behind the TV store.

I had to learn to design thinks 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.’ Nuclear fusion is believed by many scientists to be one of the most promising options for generating large amounts of carbon-free energy in the future. Fusion is the process by which the Sun and other stars heat themselves, by releasing heat generated from the energy built from when atomic nuclei collide into each other.