China’s ‘Artificial Sun’ – Recent Developments

China recently took an experiment on ‘Artificial Sun’ at the Hefei Institute of Physical Science China’s eastern province of Anhui. The experiment lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation for running of a fusion reactor.

Highlights

  • More than 10,000Chinese and foreign scientific researchers took part in this $948-million project called Experiential Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).
  • EAST is a fusion reactor, that ran successfully for around 20 minutes at 70 million degrees Celsius in the recent test. It was five times hotter than Sun.

Experiential Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)

  • China is conducting experiment with an “artificial sun,” which is dubbed as Experiential Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), for making way to clean energy in the future.
  • The experiments started in December 2021 and is likely to last until June, 2022.
  • EAST seeks to utilise the power of nuclear fusion. This is a less explored way of harnessing nuclear energy.
  • The setup is similar to nuclear reactions taking place inside the sun, where hydrogen and deuterium gases are used as fuel.
  • These experiments have potential to bring scientists closer to “unlimited clean energy.”

Why is reactor being tested?

The EAST reactor is being tested in order to make its auxiliary heating system becomes “hotter” and “durable.”

When was EAST developed?

EAST was designed and built by the Chinese. It has been used for nuclear fusion experiments since 2006. However, researchers have achieved an important milestone in the recent experiment only.

How reactor reaches great temperatures?

The reactor reaches to such great temperatures by boiling hydrogen isotopes namely, hydrogen and deuterium, into a plasma. The fusion of these elements releases huge amounts of energy, which ultimately takes the form of heat.

Significance of the experiments

Experiments on EAST reactor might help scientists to get closer to “Unlimited clean energy”.

What are the challenges?

Scientists are now facing the challenge to maintain temperatures above 100 million degrees Celsius and operate the setup in a stable way for long durations.

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