China's 'Artificial Sun' Marks Breakthrough for Nuclear Fusion

An interior view of the magnetic chamber used to create the ‘artificial sun’ in Hefei Anhui province Nov. 12 2018. CNS

An interior view of the magnetic chamber used to create the ‘artificial sun’ in Hefei Anhui province Nov. 12 2018. CNS

Scientists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences have announced their "artificial sun"-a fusion reactor experiment-has achieved a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius".

Our sun generates light and heat energy by a process called nuclear fusion, that's when two hydrogen nuclei combine to produce huge amount of energy; and if we could find a way to harness it, we would have a near-limitless source of clean energy.

However, for a sustainable nuclear fusion energy source, temperatures will need to reach seven times as hot as the sun (15 million degrees Celsius) in the reactors on Earth.

If nothing else, it makes for one hell of a microwave.

"Nuclear fusion is arguably the best way for human beings to get energy". This differs from nuclear power plants now in operation, which produce energy - as well as radioactive byproducts - by splitting uranium atoms in a process known as fission.

Scientists are hoping that at 100 million degrees Celsius they would be able to start a fusion reaction.

Scientists contained the plasma in a round, 400-ton machine known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, or EAST.

To harness the energy, the plasma must be suspended inside a reactor.

But the goal for EAST is not to send it into space and replace the real thing.

Designed, constructed, and assembled mainly by Chinese scientists, the EAST project was approved by China's National Development and Reform Commission in 1998 to conduct fundamental physics and engineering research on advanced tokamak fusion reactors. In an earlier experiment from 2016, EAST maintained a plasma temperature of almost 50 million degrees Celsius for 102 seconds before the fusion chamber melted.

Nevertheless, the race to build a fusion reactor is hotting up, with numerous companies now devoting resources towards developing a successful method.

Altre Notizie