China’s scientists have once again conducted another test run of the country’s “artificial sun.”
The nuclear fusion reactor which was dubbed Experiential Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), was turned on for more than 17 minutes, and it emitted about 70 million degree Celsius during the run.
To put this in perspective, the Sun, which is the main star of our solar system, produces a heat of about 15 million degrees Celsius at it core. This makes EAST about 5 times hotter than the Sun in our sky.
EAST is the collaborative work of more than 10,000 Chinese engineers since 2006. The engineers aim to bring the world closer to unlimited clean energy – through nuclear fusion.
The Artificial Sun, which ran for 1,056 seconds, was built to mimic the natural reaction that occurs at the core of the Sun. The project has already gulped £700 billion of Chinese finances.
“The recent operation lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation towards the running of a fusion reactor,” Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the latest experiment, said.
The nuclear fusion reaction technology works by merging atomic nuclei in order to generate massive amounts of energy. This is against nuclear fission, where energy is produced by dividing the nucleus of a heavy atom into two or more nuclei of lighter atoms.
Nuclear fission is easier to achieve, but it generates lots of nuclear waste, while fusion is way more expensive, and is capable of generating lots of energy while posing far less environmental risk.
China’s artificial sun was first turned on in December, 2020. The HL-2M Tokamak reactor was able to reach a peak heat of about 150 million degree Celsius.
In May, 2021, the nuclear reactor was tested for the second time. It peaked at 120 million degrees Celsius, and was on for 101 seconds.