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China’s ‘artificial sun’ experimental fusion reactor set a new record

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    7th Jun, 2021

China's 'artificial sun' EAST achieved a peak temperature of 288 million degrees Fahrenheit, which is over ten times hotter than the sun, for 20 second.

Context

China's 'artificial sun' EAST achieved a peak temperature of 288 million degrees Fahrenheit, which is over ten times hotter than the sun, for 20 second.

About

About China’s ‘artificial sun’ EAST

  • The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor is an advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device located at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.
  • The purpose of the artificial sun is to replicate the process of nuclear fusion, which is the same reaction that powers the sun.
  • The EAST is one of three major domestic tokamaks that are presently being operated across the country.
  • It first became operational in 2006.
  • EAST has set several records for the duration of confinement of exceedingly hot plasma.
  • The EAST project is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility, which will become the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor when it becomes operational in 2035.
  • The project includes the contributions of several countries, including India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Working of EAST

  • The EAST Tokamak device is designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process carried out by the sun and stars.
    • Nuclear fusion is a process through which high levels of energy are produced without generating large quantities of waste.
    • For nuclear fusion to occur, tremendous heat and pressure are applied on hydrogen atoms so that they fuse together.
    • The nuclei of deuterium and tritium — both found in hydrogen — are made to fuse together to create a helium nucleus, a neutron along with a whole lot of energy.
  • Fuel is heated to temperatures of over 150 million degrees C so that it forms a hot plasma “soup” of subatomic particles. With the help of a strong magnetic field, the plasma is kept away from the walls of the reactor to ensure it does not cool down and lose its potential to generate large amounts of energy.
  • The plasma is confined for long durations for fusion to take place.

 Future aspects

  • The next goal for the scientists behind the experimental reactor is to maintain the high temperature for a long period of time.
  • Previously, the EAST had reached a record temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius in 2018.
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