After fake moon, China trying to create an artificial sun

Pablo Tucker
November 16, 2018

Researchers from China's Hefei Institutes of Physical Sciences said the "artificial sun" has become the hottest known nuclear fusion experiment on Earth, at 100 million degrees Celsius.

Scientists in eastern China on Monday announced the creation of a temporary "artificial sun" over six times hotter than the core of the real sun, marking an important step toward building the world's first nuclear fusion power plant.

Another proclaimed that "if this technology is put in use, the world will no longer feel anxious about the energy crisis".

Nuclear fusion experiments are trying to replicate the energy generating process in the Sun, and to achieve this goal, researchers in China had set up the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion reactor in 2006. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits atoms to create energy, fusion involves joining lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus.

The EAST that pulled off the 100 million Celsius feat stands at 11 metres tall, has a diameter of 8 metres and weighs about 360 tonnes.

The isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents within the tokamak, tearing electrons away from their atoms and forming a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.

When the ions fuse they give off a large amount of energy, which can then be harnessed to run a power plant and produce electricity. It is this plasma that led EAST to heat to such a high temperature. "The electron temperature of the core plasma increased beyond 100 million degrees".

The researchers are still working on the fusion reactor to sustain for longer i.e. for few more minutes.

The team says that it was able to achieve fully non-inductive steady-state scenario with high confinement, high density, and high energy confinement enhanced factor during test operations. Nuclear fusion programmes like EAST are working to reach that state on Earth and harvest the energy produced, potentially providing an unlimited amount of clean energy.

According to the Institute of Plasma Physics, the results of EAST's experiments this year will aid in the construction of ITER's tokamak.

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