The first time China successfully powered its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor, state media announced Friday, marking a major advance in the nuclear power research capabilities of the country.
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced experimental research device for nuclear fusion, and researchers hope that a strong renewable energy source will potentially be unlocked by the device.
According to the People’s Everyday, it uses a strong magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, roughly ten times hotter than the sun’s heart.
Located in the southwestern province of Sichuan and completed late last year because of the enormous heat and strength it generates, the reactor is also called a “artificial sun”.
“The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way of addressing the strategic energy needs of China, but is also of great importance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” the People’s Daily said.
Since 2006, Chinese scientists have been working on designing smaller models of the reactor for nuclear fusion.
In cooperation with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the world’s largest French-based nuclear fusion research project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025, they intend to use the system.
Fusion is known as the energy Holy Grail and is what drives our light.
To produce large quantities of energy, it incorporates atomic nuclei, the opposite of the fission process used in atomic bombs and nuclear power plants, which separates them into fragments.
Fusion emits no greenhouse gases, as compared to fission, and presents less chance of accidents or theft of atomic material.
But it is both exceedingly difficult and prohibitively costly to achieve fusion, with the overall cost of ITER estimated at $22.5 billion.
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