China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) nuclear reactor sets a new world record after running at 216 million levels Fahrenheit (120 million°C) for 100 seconds. It reached the peak temperature of 288 million°F (160 million°C), ten times hotter than the sun’s core.
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most up-to-date nuclear fusion experimental research device. The Chinese scientists hope that the device can provide China with clean energy. The scientist told the media about their next target: to achieve high temperatures for more than seven days.
China’s nuclear reactor is commonly known as the “Artificial Sun” because it works similarly to the sun. It uses a similar nuclear fusion reaction to start. Previously energy in EAST was produced through nuclear fission, the process in which the nucleus of an atom split into a two-liter nucleus. However, the idea of nuclear fission was dropped due to the enormous waste produced in the fission process.
It is one of the significant steps a Chinese scientist took to unlock clean and limitless energy with minimal waste products.
The breakthrough is significant progress, and the ultimate goal should be keeping the temperature at a stable level for a long time,” Li Miao, the director of the department of physics at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, told the Global Times.
According to Lin Boquiang, the China Center for Energy Economics Research director at Xiamen University, it will take decades for a working reactor to emerge from its experimental stages.
The nuclear reactor is based at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China. The EAST is one of the three major nuclear reactors on which China is working other two are the HL-2A reactor and J-TEXT. The EAST was first powered in December 2020.
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. ITER projects also include nuclear reactors from several countries, including India, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States.
South Korean KSTAR nuclear reactor in 2020 achieved a temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.
Process of nuclear fusion
To initiate nuclear fusion, tremendous heat and pressure are applied to hydrogen atoms to fuse together. The nuclei of deuterium and tritium found in hydrogen are made to combine together to create a helium nucleus, a neutron, along with a whole lot of energy