According to the media reports, China made a historical record when its ‘artificial sun’ ran at 120 million degrees centigrade for about 101 seconds. In this experiment, the replication of the sun’s nuclear fusion procedure has been carried out by the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) device.
Practically, EAST also attained a peak temperature of 160 million degrees centigrade for about 20 seconds; this is around 10 times hotter than the sun.
The director of the department of Physics at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, Li Miao stated, “The breakthrough is significant progress, and the ultimate goal should be keeping the temperature at a stable level for a long time.”
In Hefei, the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), had conducted this experiment. In 2035, when the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility will come into operation, it will turn into the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor.
The China’s EAST project is a part of the ITER facility. Besides China, some other countries such as Japan, India, Russia, the United States and South Korea are a part of this project.
Primary goal of EAST:
The EAST project basically aims at creating nuclear fusion, which would be similar to the sun, by utilising deuterium which proliferates in the sea. The energy produced by 300 litres of gasoline is equivalent to the energy produced by deuterium present in 1 litre of sea water, both undergoing nuclear fusion reaction.
The nuclear fusion can supply unlimited amount of clean energy at very low prices. In the nuclear fusion process, the hydrogen atoms combine together when huge amount of heat and pressure is applied to them. In comparison to nuclear fission, the nuclear fusion does not produce nuclear waste and is a safer process.
The EAST project next aims to regulate the high temperature for a longer period of time. Earlier in 2018, the EAST had achieved a record temperature of 100 million degrees centigrade. Lin Boquiang said that this is a step forward in the direction of accelerating China’s green development programme. “It’s more like a future technology that’s critical for China’s green development push,” he added. Although this is a significant development, yet china will take some more decades to develop a fully functioning artificial sun, said Boquiang.
Besides China, countries like South Korea have also attained high plasma temperatures. Previously in 2020, South Korea’s KSTAR reactor had made a new record by maintaining a plasma temperature of more than 100 million degrees for about 20 seconds.