New Delhi: In its latest experiment on Thursday, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), which is called the Chinese “Artificial Sun”, achieved a continuous high-temperature plasma operation for 1,056 seconds.
EAST is an experimental superconducting tokamak magnetic fusion energy reactor in Hefei, which is the capital of east China’s Anhui Province. EAST has the internal designation HT-7U.
The duration of operation of EAST in its latest experiment is the longest time of operation for a magnetic fusion energy reactor, according to a statement issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
EAST has been in operation since 2006, with the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science conducting the experiment for the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Gong Xianzu, a researcher at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), announced the breakthrough on Friday. Xianzu is in charge of the experiment.
What Is The Aim Of EAST?
The aim of EAST is to create nuclear fusion like the Sun, using deuterium to provide a steady stream of clean energy. Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen, is an isotope of hydrogen having one proton and one neutron. Deuterium is used in nuclear reactors as a moderator because it slows down neutrons in the reactor, and has a lower probability of absorbing neutrons compared to hydrogen.
Quoting Xianzu, a report by Chinese news agency China Daily said that a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius was achieved for 101 seconds in an experiment in the first half of 2021. This time, steady-state plasma operation was sustained for 1,056 seconds at a temperature close to 70 million degrees Celsius — almost five times hotter than the real Sun — laying a solid scientific and experimental foundation toward the running of a fusion reactor, he added.
The real Sun hits a temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius at its core.
Raw materials required for the Chinese “Artificial Sun” are almost unlimited on Earth, unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which endanger the environment.
In nuclear fusion, two or more atomic nuclei merge together to produce a single heavier nucleus, neutrons, large amounts of energy. A small mass can generate a large amount of energy. Hence, fusion energy is considered the ideal “ultimate energy” for the future of humanity, the statement said.