Milestone: China's artificial 'sun' becomes six times hotter than real sun

Gwen Vasquez
November 16, 2018

In fusion reaction, two nuclei were combined unlike in the fission reaction used in current nuclear reactors that basically splits an atom.

Tokamaks are devices that use magnetic fields of control plasma in a way that could support stable nuclear fusion.

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. The device is now being hailed as a strong candidate in the search for a nuclear fusion reactor.

That is about six times as hot as our actual sun, which burns at a mere 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.

The ultimate goal of the artificial Chinese sun is to create nuclear fusion similar to that produced by the Sun using deuterium, an isotope commonly found in the sea.

The high temperatures inside a fusion reactor tear electrons away from their atoms and form a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.

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Video footage shows the Experimental Advance Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) that has been tested by the Institute of Plasma Physics, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Now being built in southern France with collaboration from 35 nations including China, ITER is set to be the first experimental fusion device to produce net energy, producing 10 times more energy than the power required to run it, according to the project website.

The researchers conducted the experiment earlier this year at the Institute of Plasma Physics in China's Anhui province.

As per experts, 100 million degrees Celsius is touted to be the minimum temperature required to trigger self-sustaining nuclear fusion on Earth. EAST is 11 meters tall, have an 8 meters diameter and weighs 400 tons. The scientists were able to achieve an electron temperature in the core plasma of over 100 million degrees. The country is the first in the world to design and develop such an equipment on its own.

He said that the achievement by EAST will be important to the development of the next major experiment in global nuclear fusion science: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

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