Experimental Chinese fusion reactor achieves temperatures of 100 million C

Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences

On Monday, officials from China's Hefei Institute of Physical Science announced that it sustainably reached over 100 million degrees Celsius in its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).

Chinese researchers pushing to find a major clean energy source have created an incredible artificial sun that can reach temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius - a heat so intense it makes the real sun seem merely lukewarm.

Another proclaimed that "if this technology is put in use, the world will no longer feel anxious about the energy crisis". Unlike nuclear power plants that split uranium atoms through fission, fusion reactors won't produce radioactive byproducts. The facility is 11 meters tall, with a diameter of 8 meters, and a weight of 400 tons.

It uses a ring to house heavy and super-heavy isotopes - atomic variations - of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium. ITER's tokamak is now halfway through construction and is scheduled to generate power by December 2025.

In theory, fusion reactors would produce energy by fusing hydrogen atoms into helium. Apart from being remarkably hot, EAST plasma temperature is also important because it is the minimum temperature scientists believe is required for producing a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reach on Earth.

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The achieved temperature is about seven times hotter than the interior of the Sun, which is approximately 15,000,000 C. Gong said the experimental temperature was about 50,000,000 C past year.

"As a nation, Australia is about to lose its capability in fusion", Dr Hole said, adding that many of his colleagues have changed field or are looking for work overseas due to a lack of investment in fusion science.

A "Tokamak" is a reactor design that resembles a donut - a donut that generates powerful magnetic forces to contain unimaginably hot plasma inside the reactor during nuclear fusion. The project will also provide experimental evidence and scientific support for the country's ongoing China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor project, which is similarly working to develop nuclear fusion.

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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