China’s Artificial Sun; What It Has Do?

According to official media, China’s “artificial sun” broke a new world record by heating up a loop of plasma to temperatures 5 times hotter than that of the sun for more than 17 minutes.

What it has Do?

Coal and natural gas are the main energy sources used today, but these resources are in short supply. Nuclear fusion has the potential to be the cleanest energy source available since it replicates the physics of the sun by combining atomic nuclei to convert massive amounts of energy into electricity. According to the Independent, the method uses no fossil fuels, produces no radioactive waste, and provides a safer alternative to fission nuclear power.

About EAST

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) nuclear fusion reactor reached a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit (70 million degrees Celsius) for 1,056 seconds. The breakthrough moves scientists a modest but crucial step closer to developing a near-limitless source of clean energy.

The Chinese experimental nuclear fusion reactor broke the previous record, set in 2003 by France’s Tore Supra tokamak, which kept plasma in a coiling loop at identical temperatures for 390 seconds. EAST had already established another record in May 2021 when it ran for 101 seconds at an incredible 216 million F. (120 million C). The core of the actual sun, on the other hand, reaches temperatures at around 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million C).

Challenges they met

Keeping plasma held at such high temperatures without leakage, on the other hand, has proven extremely difficult. For more than 70 years, scientists have been attempting to harness the energy of nuclear fusion.

Main-sequence stars may transform mass into light and heat by fusing hydrogen atoms under extremely high pressures and temperatures, generating vast amounts of energy without emitting greenhouse gases or long-lasting radioactive waste.

However, replicating the circumstances found within the hearts of stars is a difficult task. The tokamak, the most popular fusion reactor design, works by superheating plasma (one of the four states of matter composed of positive ions and negatively charged free electrons) before confining it inside a donut-shaped reactor chamber with intense magnetic fields.

One of the major stumbling hurdles has been determining how to handle a plasma hot enough to fuse. Fusion reactors require extremely high temperatures — several times hotter than the sun — because they must function at considerably lower pressures than fusion occurs naturally inside star cores.

The comparatively easy aspect is heating plasma to temperatures hotter than the sun, but finding a mechanism to contain it so that it doesn’t burn through the reactor walls (either using lasers or magnetic fields) without simultaneously destroying the fusion process is technically difficult.

The EAST reactor in China is currently being used to test technology for a larger tokamak reactor under construction in France.

Cost of EAST

EAST is anticipated to cost China more than $1 trillion by the time it is completed in June, and it is being used to test technology for an even larger fusion project, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is now under construction in Marseille, France.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) will be the world’s largest nuclear reactor, built in collaboration between 35 countries.

The reactor, which is planned to start up in 2025, also features the world’s most powerful magnetic field, which is 280,000 times stronger than Earth’s.

Chinese scientists have created a “artificial moon” research facility that will allow them to use magnetism to replicate low-gravity settings.

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