China’s ‘artificial sun’ reaches 100 million degrees Celsius marking milestone for nuclear fusion

NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), nicknamed the “Chinese artificial sun,” achieved a staggering temperature of over 100 million degrees in its core plasma during a four-month experiment this year. That’s about seven times greater than the interior of the sun, which is about 15 million degrees C.

This marks a key step in China’s future fusion reactor experiment, according to the Hefei Institute of Physical Science under Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences

The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for about 10 seconds.

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, East China’s Anhui province, has been dubbed as artificial sun since it replicates the energy-generating process of the sun.

In stable fusion, a temperature of 100 million C is one of the most fundamental elements, because fusion is possible only if the central temperature reaches 100 million C.

The experimental data obtained establishes an important foundation for the development of clean fusion energy.

Nuclear fusion needs very high temperature and great pressure, and since the latter can’t be achieved on earth, people can only raise the temperature, which, according to current theory, must reach at least 100 million C.

Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences

Therefore, the Chinese artificial sun’s successful achievement of 100 million C can be said to reach the ignition condition of nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fusion is arguably the best way for human beings to get energy. In terms of raw materials, deuterium and tritium required for nuclear fusion are almost inexhaustible in the ocean. Besides, nuclear fusion does not produce any radioactive waste, so it is extremely environmentally friendly.

China independently designed and constructed the EAST in 2006. The facility is 11 meters tall, with a diameter of 8 meters, and a weight of 400 tons. The country is the first in the world to design and develop such an equipment on its own.

“The development of science and technology makes future life full of infinite possibilities,” an internet user said on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo.

Via Chinese Academy of Sciences
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