The world’s first nuclear fusion power plant is one step closer to becoming a reality after China’s successful creation of an ‘artificial sun,’ according to a release by the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) team. The manmade star successfully reached temperatures as high as 100 million degrees Celsius – six times hotter than the center of the sun, which is only about 15 million degrees Celsius.
Put simply, scientists at EAST, which is located in Hefei, successfully heated hydrogen within a fusion reactor to a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 10 seconds, a milestone that was achieved through groundbreaking heating and controlling techniques.
Easily confused with nuclear fission, the splitting of atoms to create energy, fusion is the process of binding atomic nuclei together to form a heavier nucleus. While nuclear power plants use the process of nuclear fission by splitting uranium atoms, leaving behind radioactive waste, nuclear fusion is regarded as much cleaner.
Image via EAST
Not only has EAST’s recent breakthrough brought the world closer to a source of safe and almost endless supply of energy, it has also given scientists a unique opportunity to learn how plasma responds to extreme temperatures.
An associate professor at the Australian National University, Matthew Hole, has declared EAST’s success to be vital to the study of nuclear fusion, and important to the development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is currently under construction in southern France. From this project, China and 34 other countries seek to build a fusion device capable of producing 10 times the energy required to run it.
[Cover image via Pixabay]