China set a new milestone in humanity’s goal of harnessing the power of stars.
Last Friday, the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ fusion machine went up to 120 million degrees Celsius and remained at that temperature for a grand total of 101 seconds.
The last time EAST (Experimental Advanced Tokamak Or HT-7U) maintained a loop of plasma for so long was four years ago, but it had only 50 million degrees Celsius.
In 2018, the reactor maintained gas heated beyond the 100 million degrees mark, making it fundamental for power generation, but only managed to sustain the plasma for only 10 seconds.
It is impressive that the scientists managed to hold plasma at eight times the temperature of the Sun’s core of 15 million degrees for such an extended period.
The new record took the world by surprise thanks to the uniqueness and efficiency of the power source.
Li Miao, a physicist from the Southern University of Science and Technology, stated:
“The breakthrough is significant progress, and the ultimate goal should be keeping the temperature at a stable level for a long time.”
Fusion reactors rely on the reactions that happen inside the Sun naturally, merging hydrogen atoms together into elements like helium.
While the Sun depends on gravity to force the atoms together, here on our planet, scientists had to use special generators as heaters to obtain atom-melding forces.
Researchers believe that the amount of deuterium – a stable hydrogen form containing one proton and one neutron in one litre of seawater may produce an energy equivalent to 300 litres of gasoline via nuclear fusion.
The experimental facility containing EAST requires about 300 scientists and engineers.