China's "artificial sun" was briefly the hottest spot in our solar system


The nuclear fusion machine exceeded 100 million degrees Celsius.

It seems that the moonlight is not the only thing that China is interested in improving.

Scientists from the China Institute of Plasma Physics announced earlier this week that the university's nuclear fusion machine, officially known as the Tokamak Advanced Superconductor Experimental, or ESTE, achieved a temperature above 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Celsius). Fahrenheit degrees). That is a temperature almost seven times higher than that of the sun.

It's absolutely amazing to consider, but for a short time, the EAST reactor in China was the hottest spot in our entire solar system.

While just stealing the temperature records from the sun is impressive, the point behind the 360-metric-ton EAST fusion reactor is to push humanity closer and closer to a revolution in energy production.

"It is certainly an important step for China's nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world," Associate Professor Matthew Hole from the Australian National University told ABC News Australia. "The benefit is simple because it's very large-scale [continuous] base load power production, with zero greenhouse gas emissions and no long-lasting radioactive waste."

Scientists have hope

The China Institute of Plasma Physics ‘Tokamak Superconductor Advanced or ESTE.

Get to know the China Institute of Plasma Physics, the Advanced Superconducting Superconductor or ESTE.

Unlike nuclear fission, which is based on the division of a heavy, unstable nucleus into two lighter nuclei, fusion rather than squeezing two light nuclei together to release large amounts of energy. It is a process that not only feeds the sun (and stars in general) but is also low in radioactive waste. In fact, the main outlet is helium, an element that the Earth is surprisingly "light" in reserves.

Tokamaks like the one at the China Institute of Plasma Physics or, as shown in the 360 ​​video below, at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), heat heavy isotopes of deuterium and tritium using electrical currents. extreme to create a charged plasma. Powerful magnets keep this superheated gas stable, allowing scientists to raise the heat to scorching levels. For now, that process is only temporary, but scientists around the world are hopeful that the end goal, a plasma burn sustained by its own fusion reaction, is achievable.

According to John Wright, principal research scientist at MIT's PSFC, we are about three decades away from building a self-sustaining fusion reaction. Meanwhile, progress should be made not only in maintaining the high-energy fusion reaction, but also in reducing the construction costs of reactors.

"These experiments can easily happen in 30 years," Wright told Newsweek. “With luck and social will, we will see the first electricity-generating fusion power plants before another 30 years pass. As the plasma physicist Artsimovich said: 'The merger will be ready when society needs it.'

Michael d'Estries

Original article (in English)

Video: Magnetized Target Fusion. Peter OShea. TEDxBrentwoodCollegeSchool (October 2020).