Frank Sanns has an unusual hobby: He’s trying to prove nuclear fusion is a viable energy source. At the center of his search is a working, homemade nuclear reactor. “I’m a dreamer,” the Pittsburgh native tells the Wall Street Journal. Sanns is part of an exclusive cadre called the “Neutron Club”—in which all 42 members have built homemade reactors.
Fusion, which produces energy by mashing atoms together rather than ripping them apart, has long been energy’s holy grail, producing marginal pollution or nuclear waste. But the fusors these hobbyists build use far more energy than they produce, and some aren’t optimistic they’ll ever do more. “It's almost like, over the gates of hell,” says one longtime club member, “‘Abandon hope all ye who enter.’”