China’s “artificial sun” tokamak fusion reactor just set a new fusion record
[June 7, 2021: Josh Shavit]
China’s “artificial sun” set a new record after it ran at 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds, according to the state media. The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) device designed by China replicates the nuclear fusion process carried out by the sun.
For 20 seconds, EAST also achieved a peak temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius, which is over ten times hotter than the sun. The experiment was conducted at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), in Hefei.
The ultimate goal of EAST is to create nuclear fusion like the Sun, using deuterium abound in the sea. Deuterium from one-litre of seawater can produce energy equivalent to 300 litres of gasoline through a nuclear fusion reaction.
For nuclear fusion to occur, tremendous heat and pressure are applied to hydrogen atoms so that they fuse together. Unlike fission, nuclear fusion is considered a safer process with no nuclear waste. Nuclear fusion could potentially provide unlimited clean energy at very low costs.
China’s EAST project is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility that will become the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor after it becomes operational in 2035. Several countries are a part of this project, including South Korea, Japan, Russia, India, and the United States. The next goal for the EAST project is to maintain the high temperature for a long period of time.
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