With the help of experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST), which is called the Chinese “artificial sun“, physicists were able to heat the plasma to 100 million degrees Celsius (which is 6 times higher than the core temperature of our star) and reach a heating power of 10 MW. In the framework of this experiment, scientists have obtained indicators approaching the physical conditions necessary for the operation of a fusion reactor in a stable mode.
The experiment was carried out using the world’s first superconducting tokamak with a non-circular cross-section. Its development and assembly involved scientists from the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Academy of Sciences of China. In a published press release from the Institute, it is stated that the results were close to satisfying the physical conditions necessary for the creation of a future stationary fusion reactor.
The collision of two hydrogen nuclei creates a huge burst of energy. This process is called thermonuclear reaction. With it, the Sun and other stars produce light and heat. If scientists can curb this energy, mankind will have access to a virtually infinite source of pure energy.
The Chinese facility was called an artificial sun due to the fact that it creates the necessary conditions for nuclear fusion by fusing hydrogen nuclei, as in the cores of stars. However, unlike celestial bodies, in tokamak, they used not ordinary hydrogen but its isotopes — deuterium and tritium — that are extracted from seawater.
The successful experiment EAST has become an important step towards the creation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The development of the latter involves 35 countries, including Russia, China, and the United States.
In addition, the parameters obtained during the tests are also important for the construction of the project of the Chinese experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor (CFETR).
Scientists are working not only to create an “artificial sun” but also invent new ways to store energy.