China has achieved a new breakthrough in its quest to find clean electricity from fusion energy, state media reported, as the “artificial sun” set a new record for how long it can maintain high temperatures continuously.
According to Xinhua, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) nuclear fusion reactor, also known as the “Artificial Sun”, maintained the hot plasma at 70 million degrees Celsius for 1,056 seconds (17) minutes 36 seconds). This is the longest time “Artificial Sun” has been active ever.
EAST once achieved an important record in May when maintaining a temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds. In the mid-2021 experiment, the “Artificial Sun” reached a peak temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for the next 20 seconds, 10 times hotter than the real sun.
Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said:Here are the goals for the different stages. Recent activity lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation for the operation of a fusion reactor“.
EAST is called the “Artificial Sun” because it uses hydrogen and deuterium gas as fuel to simulate nuclear fusion, producing energy like the real sun.
Fusion energy is considered the “superiority energy” for a carbon-neutral future because hydrogen and deuterium gas abundant on earth are less emissions.
EAST, located in Hefei, Anhui province, is one of three operating fusion reactors in China. Other fusion reactors are located in Chengdu, southwestern China, and downtown Wuhan.
Director of the Institute of Plasma Physics Song Yuntao said: “The experiment once again challenged the world record. We fully embrace the technology, driving it to a big step from basic research to engineering applications.“.
However, despite the decades-long search by scientists around the world, fusion reactors are far from reality. According to Xinhua, the two main challenges are keeping the high temperature above 100 million degrees and stable operation for a long time.
The US, Europe, Russia and South Korea are also making similar efforts. China is also among 35 countries participating in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) super project in France.
Refer to SCMP