Replicating the nuclear reaction that takes place in the Sun, China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak set a new record after it ran at 120 million degrees Celsius (216 million degrees Fahrenheit) for 101 seconds, according to state media. Dubbed as the “artificial sun”, the experiment that ran last week, also reached the peak temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius (288 million degrees Fahrenheit), for another 20 seconds, which is over ten times hotter than the sun, reports Xinhua news agency.
Located at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP), the experiment was conducted in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province. The shift to the nuclear experiment of this scale is China’s way of making its shift to clean energy resources. According to Xinhua news agency, the ultimate goal of EAST is to create nuclear fusion like the Sun, using deuterium abound in the sea. The deuterium in one litre of seawater can produce the amount of energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline, through nuclear fusion reaction.
Commending the feat, Song Yuntao, director of ASIPP called it a “huge achievement” in China's physics and engineering fields. He further mentioned that the experiment's success has laid the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station.
For this experiment, nearly 300 scientists and engineers came together to work on the operation. The doughnut-shaped experiment facility includes a vacuum system, RF wave system, laser scattering system, and microwave system. The experiment ran the nuclear fusion reaction, in which high levels of energy are produced without generating large quantities of waste.It is unlike the usual nuclear fission reaction in which the nucleus of a heavy atom is split into two or more nuclei of lighter atoms.
China’s EAST project is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility, which will become the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor after it becomes operational in 2035. Several countries are a part of this project, including South Korea, Japan, Russia, India, and the United States.