THE ARTIFICIAL SUN: SCIENTISTS REPLICATE SUN'S FUSION REACTION ON EARTH

Scientists have created an ‘Artificial Sun’ on Earth that has maintained a temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius. The Sun’s core burns at 15 million degrees Celsius due to the nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion China’s Experimental reactor burns at eight times more than the Sun’s core temperature.

China’s experimental reactor set a new record for plasma degrees Celsius by reaching about 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds and 160 million degrees Celsius for about 20 seconds, this was the largest record ever recorded in the history of science. The reactor, which is housed in the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, is supposed to mimic the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars to offer nearly endless clean energy, reported by Global Times.

The fusion of two light nuclei forms a Two light nuclei single heavy nucleus in a fusion reaction. Because the overall mass of the resulting single nucleus is smaller than the mass of the two initial nuclei, the process releases energy. The remaining mass is converted into energy.

How Does The Reactor Reach Such High Amount Of Temperature?

Hydrogen isotopes are inserted within a fusion device to create a plasma state where ions and electrons are separated to push for clean energy and reach such high temperatures. Ions are heated and kept at high temperatures during the process. In 2018, China’s EAST reactor achieved a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius.

According to the Global Times, EAST is a component of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a global science project involving China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. While the reactor has already set a new record, scientists estimate that a fully working reactor would take at least another decade.

Understanding China’s EAST Reactor:

The major purpose of the experimental reactor is to achieve nuclear fusion in the same way that the sun does, using deuterium from the sea to deliver a steady stream of clean energy. According to Xinhua the Chinese Scientist, around 300 scientists and engineers were mobilized to help run the doughnut-shaped experiment facility, which comprises a vacuum system, RF wave system, laser scattering system, and microwave system. Scientists had begun upgrading the experimental reactor for almost a year to reach much higher temperatures, it was a very difficult task for them.

Deuterium is the raw material necessary to generate energy in the reactor, and unlike other non-renewable sources such as coal and oil, it is abundant on Earth. According to studies, deuterium in one liter of seawater can provide the energy equivalent of 300 liters of gasoline through fusion reaction.

In November 2018, EAST produced an electron temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius in its core plasma, which is seven times the temperature experienced in the Sun’s core.

In 2020, the reactor maintained a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds. The experimental reactor went online in 2006 and has since become one of the most important sources of fusion research. As the globe shifts to green energy, the fusion reactor, once operational, might pave the way for a clean, limitless supply of energy.

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