Researchers hope nuclear fusion device could provide almost limitless clean energy
China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) sets a new record last week after it ran at a plasma temperature of 70 million Celsius for 1,056 seconds. As per reports, this was five times hotter than the real sun.
EAST aims to create nuclear fusion reactions like the one that takes place in the Sun with the help of deuterium from the sea to produce clean energy. Dubbed as the artificial sun, EAST achieved a continuous high-temperature plasma operation in the latest experiment on Thursday last week, which was also the longest time of operation of its kind in the world, reported Xinhua.
The experiment was conducted at Hefei, capital of east China’s Anhui Province. The doughnut-shaped experiment facility includes a Radio Frequency (RF) wave system, laser scattering system, vacuum system, and microwave system.
During the experiments, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), also known as a “artificial sun,” reached temperatures of 70,000,000 degrees Celsius, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The ultimate goal of developing the artificial sun device is to provide near-limitless clean energy by mimicking the natural reactions that occur within stars.
“The recent operation lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation towards the running of a fusion reactor,” said Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the latest experiment.
The EAST project, which has already cost China over £700 billion, will continue to run the experiment until June.
Nuclear fusion has been hailed as the holy grail of clean energy production, but despite decades of research, it is still a long way from being realized outside of a laboratory.
Nuclear fusion reactors merge atomic nuclei to generate massive amounts of energy that can be converted into electricity, mimicking the physics of the sun.
Unlike the nuclear fission process that powers commercial nuclear energy production, this process uses no fossil fuels and produces no hazardous waste. Environmental disasters, according to physicists, are far less likely.
China’s reactor team will also provide technical assistance to another nuclear fusion reactor megaproject in Marseille, France, which is currently under construction.
Once completed, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will be the world’s largest reactor.