Energy

China claims new fusion record with its "artificial sun" nuclear reactor

China claims new fusion record...
Nuclear fusion research seeks to form helium atoms under high temperature and pressure, and scientists in China have taken in important step forward
Nuclear fusion research seeks to form helium atoms under high temperature and pressure to release huge amounts of energy, and scientists in China have taken in important step toward this aim
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Nuclear fusion research seeks to form helium atoms under high temperature and pressure, and scientists in China have taken in important step forward
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Nuclear fusion research seeks to form helium atoms under high temperature and pressure to release huge amounts of energy, and scientists in China have taken in important step toward this aim
A look inside China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)
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A look inside China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)

China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is one of a number of promising nuclear fusion research devices in operation around the world, and over the past few years we've seen it take some impressive steps forward. Chinese state media is now reporting that scientists working on the project have achieved a new world record by holding plasma of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds in their latest round of experiments, edging closer to the long-pursued goal of clean and limitless energy.

The idea behind nuclear fusion research is to recreate the process that the Sun uses to produce monumental amounts of energy, where intense heat and pressure combine to produce plasma in which atomic nuclei fuse at incredible velocities. Scientists are working with a range of experimental devices to trigger and study these reactions here on Earth, but experts consider donut-shaped tokamaks, like the EAST at China's Hefei Institutes of Physical Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the most promising approach.

This metal torus features a series of magnetic coils designed to hold superheated streams of hydrogen plasma in place for long enough for the reactions to occur. In 2016, we saw scientists at EAST manage to heat hydrogen plasma to around 50 million °C (90 million °F) and sustain it for 102 seconds. The team then upped the ante to 100 million °C (180 million °F), more than six times hotter than the Sun's core, in 2018, holding it there for around 10 seconds.

A look inside China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)
A look inside China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)

The latest round of experiments mark another step forward for the researchers. According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, they have set a new record of 120 million °C (216 million °F) for heated plasma, and sustaining it for 101 seconds. In separate experiments, the "artificial Sun," as it is called, heated plasma to 160 million °C (288 million °F) for 20 seconds. Ultimately, the publicly stated goal of EAST is to hold plasma at around 100 million °C for more than 1,000 seconds, or around 17 minutes.

These kinds of experiments aren't designed to generate usable electricity, but to advance the field of nuclear fusion physics for next-generation devices like ITER, which will be the world's largest nuclear fusion reactor when completed in 2025. Like EAST, experiments on Korea's KSTAR reactor, which itself set a world record by maintaining plasma at over 100 million °C for 20 seconds last year, will inform the development of ITER, which is expected to begin full operation in 2035.

Source: Xinhua

15 comments
15 comments
Pierre Collet
Currently the only realistic way out of carbon-sourced energy... Already too late to prevent catastrophic climate change but the sooner these new carbon-free sources of reliable energy are coming in the better...
Catweazle
Pierre, I think the most likely "catastrophic" climate change threatening us currently is the coming Solar Cycle 25-induced solar minimum.
A couple of degrees of warming is a practically unmitigated benefit, the same reduction is almost certainly going to produce a Global catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.
In any case, mankind can no more *significantly* control the Earth's temperature than *significantly* change the time the Sun rises and sets.
Note that during the big reduction in the burning of fossil fuels during the CV-19 pandemic the rate of increase of Global temperature has not produced any measurable decrease in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Mat Noel
Yeah, you guys are either Generation Y or don’t remember, we were supposed to be flooded out or extinct like 40 years ago. Back then it’s was referred to as global warming. The climate will continue to change, regardless.
Pierre Collet
The cause anthropic or helioopic (?) is irrelevant. It is an established fact that gasses such as CO2 or worse CH4 have a greenhouse effect (in one line, they are opaque to infrareds, so supra-red light that goes through the atmosphere from the sun heats the earth that emits back infrared light that is then blocked by such infra-red opaque gasses).
So whatever the cause, once more, anthropic or marsopic or whateveropic, our only leverage against what is coming is to try to reduce our CO2/CH4 emissions as much as possible to avoid roasting. We (read humans) can go on with exploiting fossil fuels to get warmer again when the next glacial period comes in 25000 years.
bwana4swahili
Fusion power... Always 50 years from now!
Mat Noel
Very interesting. Maybe we should force disclosure of the Tesla papers
michael_dowling
They are barking up the wrong tree with ITER and other reactors like it. https://thebulletin.org/2017/04/fusion-reactors-not-what-theyre-cracked-up-to-be/ To save out butts,we have to build out solar and wind,which is already cheaper than fossil.
jerryd
It can't compete with that free nuke in the sky!
We have the tech for people to run the energy future by making their own and more to sell. China, US would do far better making the simple machines for homes, buildings, businesses need to make their own from solar, wind, CHP, CSP, bio/waste/synfuels And EVs that buy, sell power for profit,
That is the future in just 10 yrs in the US as the majority of on demand generation and storage as so many of them that can make power at $.04/kwh and sell it for 2-10x as much.
Since the equipment is cheap and 50% cheaper in 2 yrs, utilities can't compete at retail prices.
2Pedantic
Farmers are thinking bumper crops were cool, and now its so cool they can't get anything to grow in June still 3" tall sprouts. Climate change brings on a multitude of changes. 20 21 is the first year I seen it this severe. And its going to take over a decade for Greenland to melt completely. Weird to see it this cool this late.
fasteddie2020
We are well on our way to having clean energy sources.
1. We have fission: we simply need to expand it
2. We have fusion: we simply need to get serious about storage. See here:

https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/09597b104b84e91f1e31dae27c07cefbb9984224ce373d4fe4c98b503d0669c9.jpg

Why do I have to provide all the answers the world needs?