China's EAST machine reaches temperatures six times hotter than the Sun


Unlike nuclear fission, where the energy comes from the decay of large atoms into smaller elements, fusion releases very little waste: mostly helium.

The four-month experiment shows China is making significant progress towards tokamak-based fusion energy production, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

Tokamaks are devices that use magnetic fields of control plasma in a way that could support stable nuclear fusion.

Interestingly, an artificial Sun is the name given to nuclear fusion experiments, and it is not similar to the artificial moon that China is planning to send up to space soon.

However, for a sustainable nuclear fusion energy source, temperatures will need to reach seven times as hot as the sun (15 million degrees Celsius) in the reactors on Earth.

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To date, nuclear physicists and researchers from different parts of the world are pushing for the development of a nuclear fusion power plant that will produce environmentally friendly, sustainable energy. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project - a global collaboration of 35 countries, including China, initiated in 1985 - is now developing the world's largest tokamak in France.

Matthew Hole, a professor at the Australian National University, told ABC that the breakthrough will form an important contribution to the next major global experiment in nuclear fusion: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is under construction in southern France and is expected to begin operations in 2025. The program-Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)-is known as the "artificial sun" because of the nature of what the scientists are trying to achieve.

The researchers conducted the experiment earlier this year at the Institute of Plasma Physics in China's Anhui province.

The isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents within the tokamak, tearing electrons away from their atoms and forming a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.

In an earlier experiment from 2016, EAST maintained a plasma temperature of almost 50 million degrees Celsius for 102 seconds before the fusion chamber melted.