In the most recent experiment, China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) broke a new record by maintaining a plasma temperature of 216 million Fahrenheit (120 million C) for 101 seconds. Not only that, but according to state media reports, scientists working on the “artificial sun” reportedly achieved a temperature of 288 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius) for 20 seconds.
Situated at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, the Tokamak device has been designed to reproduce the nuclear fusion process, something natural to the Sun and stars. The experiment is being carried out to provide infinite clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion. The previous record maintained a plasma temperature of 180 million F (100 million C) for 100 seconds, which has now been broken, a big step towards getting nuclear fusion to work.
The new experiment by Chinese scientists, according to Li Miao, director of the physics department at Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science and Technology, is a crucial milestone toward the objective of holding the temperature at a steady level for a long time. “The breakthrough represents tremendous progress,” Li told the Global Times, “and the ultimate goal should be to keep the temperature at a steady level for a long time.”
According to experts, scientists are working on a range of devices to initiate these reactions, but doughnut-shaped tokamaks, such as the EAST, appear to be the most promising. A set of magnetic coils are used in the device to keep superheated streams of hydrogen plasma in place long enough for reactions to occur.
The Chinese “artificial sun” experiment is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a global science project that, when completed in 2035, would be the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor.
As many as 35 countries, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the US, jointly work on the project. To harness nuclear fusion, achieving a plasma temperature above 100 million C is a key challenge. In 2020, Korea’s KSTAR reactor had set a record by maintaining a plasma at over 100 million C for 20 seconds. It is believed that the temperature at the core of the Sun is 15 million C, which also means that the temperature produced by (EAST) is nearly seven times that of the Sun.