China’s ‘artificial sun’, record-breaking 17 minutes nuclear fusion
The first test of china’s fusion reactor, dubbed “artificial sun,” is successfully completed. The technology of nuclear fusion is one that has a bright future as nuclear fusion energy has a plethora of advantages.
The energy released by fusing atoms together in a controlled manner is nearly four million times greater than that released by a chemical reaction like coal, oil, or gas combustion. No carbon by-products are involved in nuclear energy which makes it a very appealing alternative for the generation of energy.
Hl-2m, “the man-made sun”
The research tokamak hl-2m (artificial sun) is operated by “swipe”, Chengdu, China. The hl-2m tokamak is now being used in nuclear fusion research, specifically to investigate heat extraction from plasma. The reactor generates electricity by compressing hydrogen in a strong magnetic field until it reaches an ionic state. Plasma temperature rises to 150 million degrees Celsius, five times higher than the sun’s core temperature resulting in large-scale energy production. Supercooling technology and magnets are used to keep the plasma contained.
“nuclear fusion sustained for 1056 seconds, the longest time ever achieved”
For 1,056 seconds, the (east) nuclear fusion reactor kept a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit (70 million degrees Celsius). The previous record was set in 2003 by France’s tore supra tokamak where the plasma in a reactor stayed at approximately the same temperature for 390 seconds.
Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of plasma physics, china(ASIPP) made the announcement on Friday. The ultimate aim of (east), which is based at (ASIPP) in Hefei, is to achieve nuclear fusion similar to that of the sun by utilizing deuterium, which is abundant in the sea, to produce clean free energy.
However, confinement of plasma at such high temperatures proved to be challenging for scientists and they’re in a continuous struggle to find new ways of confinement for the last 60 years. Furthermore, no experimental tokamak reactor has ever been built that produces more energy than it consumes. On the other hand, china’s progress with (east), suggests that scientists are getting closer to harnessing cosmic power in a sustainable way.
The (east) reactor in china is currently being used to test technology for a larger tokamak reactor being built in France. (iter) will be the world’s largest nuclear reactor, thanks to a 35-country collaboration including the USA, UK, China, India, and others. The reactor, which is expected to operate in 2025, also generates the world’s most powerful magnetic field, about 270,000 times stronger than earth.
The goal of this ‘artificial sun’ is to produce an enormous amount of clean free energy to power cities, rather than to simply provide light or heat.
Nuclear fusion does not emit any greenhouse gases and produces radioactive wastes.
Unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which are rapidly depleting and posing a threat to the environment, renewable energy sources are abundant. On earth, the raw materials used by the ‘artificial sun’ are nearly limitless.
“so fusion energy is deemed to be the ‘ultimate free energy’ for humanity’s future”