Chinese nuclear researchers have reached an important milestone in the global quest to exploit energy from nuclear fusion, a process…
Chinese nuclear researchers have reached an important milestone in the global quest to exploit energy from nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun.
China Plasma Physics Research Group announced this week that plasma in their experimental advanced superconductive Tokamak (EAST) called “artificial sun” reached a massive 100 million degrees Celsius, the temperature required to maintain a fusion reaction that gives more power than it takes to run.
To put it in perspective, the temperature at the core of the sun is said to be about 15 million degrees Celsius, making the plasma in China’s “artificial sun” more than six times warmer than the original.
The news comes after China shocked the science community last month with plans to launch an “artificial moon” that is bright enough to replace city streets in 2020.
Talking to ABC, Matthew Hole of Australian National University said the performance was an important step for nuclear fusion science.
“It’s really an important step for China’s nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world,” said Dr. Hole, adding that fusion reactors could be the solution to global energy issues.
The advantage is simple because it is very large-scale base load [continuous] energy production, without greenhouse gas emissions and no radioactive waste in long life.
“It provides a silver bullet energy solution … provided that it can be utilized.”
He added that nuclear fusion reactors also avoid risks associated with current nuclear fission reactors that can be adapted to hazardous weapons and are prone to catastrophic fusions. 1
9659002] The news went viral on Chinese social media, with most users excited about the performance.
“There is nothing China can not do”, a user at Vi Ibo said.
Another explained that “if this technique is used, the world will no longer be worried about the energy crisis.”
While current nuclear power plants are dependent on nuclear fission – a chain reaction where uranium atoms are divided to free up energy – nuclear fusion effectively does the opposite by forcing atoms to merge.
One way to accomplish this on earth is to use what is called tokamak, an apparatus designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars to generate energy.
The east of 100 million Celsius feat stands 11 meters long, has a diameter of 8 meters and weighs about 360 tons.
High-powered magnets lines “Donut shaped” inside EAST. Photo: The Institute of Plasma Physics The Chinese Science Academy
It uses a ring to accommodate heavy and super-heavy isotopes – hydrogen atomic variations known as deuterium and tritium.
The isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents within the Tokamak, wipe electrons away from their atoms and form a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.
Powerful magnets that glue the inner walls of the EAST then contain the plasma to a small area to maximize the likelihood that ions will fuse together.
When ions melt, they emit a large amount of energy, which can then be used to power a power plant and produce electricity.
The Chinese research group said they could achieve the record temperature through the use of various new plasma and plasma monitoring techniques, but could only maintain the condition for about 10 seconds.
The latest breakthrough provided experimental evidence that when 100 million ion degrees Celsius land is possible according to China’s Plasma Physics Institute.
Dr Hole said that while the energy potential of nuclear fusion as a pure energy source has attracted major investments from countries around the world – including China – Australia has slowed down.
“As a nation, Australia will lose its ability to merge,” said Dr Hole, adding that many of his colleagues have switched fields or seeking work abroad because of lack of investment in fusion science.
Australia used to have good investments in this space, but it has really neglected in recent years. “
He said that the achievement of EAST will be important for the development of the next major experiment in global nuclear fusion. Science: The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
ITER is currently built in southern France with cooperation from 35 nations including China, and ITER is the first fusion vice to consistently produce network power that produces 500 megawatts of clean and sustainable power.
Since EAST has a similar design to ITER but on a smaller scale, it is likely that it will be an important test equipment under The development of ITER, according to
ITER is expected to be ready to create its first plasma and startup operation in 2025.