China’s ‘artificial sun’ achieves temperature of 100 million degrees

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), dubbed China’s “artificial sun,” is under experiment at the Institute of Plasma Physics, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Source: China Central Television

China’s self-designed “artificial sun,” a device to harness the energy of fusion, has made an important advance by achieving a temperature of 100 million C in plasma and a heating power of 10 megawatts, media reported, noting the progress could pave the way for developing clean energy through nuclear fusion.

The Institute of Plasma Physics, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced on its website on Monday that various data points achieved in the experiments are close to meeting physics’ demand for future steady-state fusion reactor operation.

It also provides an important technological basis for mankind’s development of clean nuclear energy, said the institute.

Independently designed and developed by China, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is the world’s first fully superconducting tokamak with non-circular cross-section and the country’s fourth generation experimental nuclear fusion device, state-owned China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday.

The device is dubbed as the “artificial sun” as it aims to realize nuclear fusion like that of the sun by using deuterium and tritium, which widely exist in sea water, CCTV reported.

The CCTV report said that the device could continuously provide clean energy for humanity.

After setting world record by achieving 101.2 seconds of steady-state H-mode operation of the EAST in 2017, scientists turned their eyes to research the physical mechanism of the core under high power heating in 2018, said the institute.

Achievements realized in 2018 in EAST experiments will provide important and direct experience for the construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a large international scientific project that is a global collaboration of 35 countries including China, Russia and the US.

It also will provide experimental evidence and scientific support for China’s ongoing China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR) project, the institute said.

Compared with ITER, although smaller, EAST is similar to ITER in shape and equilibrium, yet more flexible.

During the 10 years of ITER construction, EAST will be one of only a few international devices that can serve as an important experimental test bench for conducting ITER related steady-state advanced plasma science and technology research, according to the official website of the institute.