China’s Nuclear Reactor Gets Six Times Hotter Than Sun

Posted: Nov 16 2018, 3:43pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 16 2018, 3:47pm CST , in Latest Science News


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China’s Nuclear Reactor Gets Six Times Hotter than Sun
Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

"Artificial sun" sets new record by achieving temperatures over 100 million degrees.

China has reached a new milestone in fusion energy production. Its nuclear reactor Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has achieved an electron temperature of over 100 million degrees in its core plasma during a four-month experiment this year.

The plasma in Sun’s core is about 15 million degrees C. To put this into perspective, China's fusion tool burned around six times greater than the sun.

Nuclear fusion can be a viable source of clean, substantial energy. For fusion power plants to generate energy, however, scientists require plasma that maintains very high temperatures during fusion reactions.

“It's certainly a significant step for China's nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world,” said associate professor Matthew Hole from the Australian National University.

“The benefit is simple in that it is very large-scale base load (continuous) energy production, with zero greenhouse gas emissions and no long-life radioactive waste.”

Fusion energy is hard to harness because it takes place in immense gravitational forces and extreme temperatures. Thanks to advances in technology, scientists are now building and testing different fusion reactor designs. One of those is Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). Located in Hefei, EAST has continued to evolve in order to improve plasma performances.

In the latest effort, researchers boosted plasma temperatures by adding different heating techniques. However, the state only lasted 10 seconds.

“EAST is the first fully superconducting tokamak with a non-circular cross section in the world. It was designed and constructed by China with a focus on key science issues related to the application of fusion power.” Chinese Academy of Sciences statement reads.

“Since it began operating in 2006, EAST has become a fully open test facility where the world fusion community can conduct steady-state operations and ITER-related physics research.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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