‘Artificial sun’: What is China’s latest experiment?

China conducted a nuclear fusion experiment, for advancing its ”artificial sun.”

Key points

  • The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) heating system was kicked off by Hefei Institute of Physical Science in December 2021.
  • EAST heating system experiment was conducted with the aim of making artificial sun or auxiliary heating system ‘hotter and more durable.
  • China spent some 6 billion yuan on a large doughnut-shaped installation called as a Tokamak.
  • Tokamak uses extremely high temperatures to boil the hydrogen isotopes into a plasma and then fuse them together to release energy.
  • If the released energy can be utilised, it will only require tiny amounts of fuel and create no radioactive waste, virtually.

Background

  • EAST system replicates the process of nuclear fusion, which became operational in 2006.
  • This experiment broke a record in June 2021, by reaching a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius, which was ten times hotter than the sun.

About Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)

EAST is a superconducting tokamak magnetic fusion energy reactor, based in Hefei, China. Experiments is being conducted by Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, for the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It has operated since 2006. EAST is the first tokamak, that employ superconducting toroidal and poloidal magnets. The experiment is aimed for plasma pulses of up to 1000 seconds.

When was EAST project developed?

EAST experiment followed China’s first superconducting tokamak device, called HT-7. It was built by the Institute of Plasma Physics in association with Russia in 1990s. This project was proposed in 1996 while received approval in 1998. Its Construction was completed in March 2006. First plasma was achieved in September 2006.

ITER Project

China is also a member of ITER project. It is the most ambitious project, for which 35-nation have collaborated. The project is being developed in France. Under this project, countries are building world’s largest tokamak. The Tokamak is a magnetic fusion device, designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. It is based on the same principle powering the Sun and stars.

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