China-based research into using nuclear fusion as a clean energy source is the first to achieve temperatures of over 100-million degrees Celsius paving the way for artificial sun technology
Spotted: Here at Springwise, we’re always on the lookout for clean energy innovations. We’ve reported the world’s first hydrogen-powered train and the way algae being used to power advertising columns in Paris. Now, a breakthrough in China promises a new energy source of nuclear fusion.
Researchers at the China-based Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Science, have recorded temperatures in their nuclear fusion reactor of 100-million degrees Celsius. This is a crucial achievement in the quest for nuclear fusion energy production.
Nuclear fusion requires the super-hot heating of hydrogen. This can be done by heating up pure gas and ionising it, producing plasma. Under the right conditions, two hydrogen atoms will combine to form helium and when this happens, a vast amount of energy is generated. Nuclear fusion could, therefore, be a rich source of clean energy and unlike the fission reactions that power current nuclear power plants, fusion is free from the risks of fallout and dangerous byproducts. It also can’t be weaponised.
The temperature was recorded in the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) and labelled the ‘Chinese Artificial Sun’. This was due to the way the reaction mimics the way the sun produces energy. The reactor, the Tokamak, features a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber to hold the hydrogen gas, while large magnetic coils around the chamber control the reaction. In the future, the heat produced by the fusion could power turbines to produce electricity. The temperature record was only maintained for 10-seconds, and has yet to produce any power. Research is ongoing.