China’s Tokamak Superconducting Reactor (EAST) is one of the most promising nuclear fusion research devices in the world today. Reactors like EAST are often referred to as “artificial suns” due to the enormous heat and energy they generate.
Most recently, scientists from the EAST project broke the world record for maintaining the temperature of the plasma at 120 million degrees Celsius (about 8 times the temperature at the core of the Sun) for 101 seconds in the test. latest experience. The success brings the world’s most populous country closer to creating a clean and limitless source of energy, according to Chinese state media.
Inside China’s Tokamak Superconducting Reactor
Basically, reactors like EAST work on the principle of fusion, when two light nuclei of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium, are combined to form a heavier helium nucleus and release energy. This is also the main process that creates the power of stars like the Sun. In other words, the goal of building a fusion reactor is comparable to “creating an artificial Sun on Earth and plugging it into it to use”.
However, for a fusion reaction to occur, a very high temperature is required, up to 120 million degrees Celsius or more. At this temperature, all matter exists in the state of plasma.
This is also the basic construction goal of reactors like EAST, to create a plasma mixture with a temperature of up to 150 million degrees Celsius. To achieve this super-hot temperature, the reactors use gas. hydrogen and deuterium (as fuel to simulate nuclear fusion) by injecting them into a Tokamak-style toroidal magnetic chamber, which installs magnetic coils capable of generating a magnetic field 100,000 times that of a magnetic field. Earth.
Finally, the fuel in the Tokamak chamber is heated to over 150 million degrees Celsius, forming an extremely hot plasma stream. The extremely hot plasma itself will swirl in a circle, “contained” and shaped by an intense magnetic field. This magnetic structure keeps the hottest parts of the plasma away from the Tokamak wall, creating an insulating effect that allows the furnace to reach very high temperatures for long enough for reactions to occur.
Inside the Tokamak furnace, before and after starting the process of creating a fusion reaction to form a hot plasma stream of 120 million degrees Celsius.
In 2016, scientists at EAST heated the hydrogen plasma to about 50 million degrees Celsius and maintained it for 102 seconds. In 2018, the team heated the plasma to 100 million degrees – six times hotter than the Sun’s core, and held this heat for about 10 seconds.
The latest test marks another step forward for the Chinese researchers. According to Xinhua, they set a new record at 120 million degrees Celsius for hot plasma and maintained it for 101 seconds. In separate experiments, China’s “Artificial Sun” heated the plasma to 160 million degrees Celsius in 20 seconds. Ultimately, EAST’s publicly stated goal is to keep the plasma at about 100 million degrees Celsius for more than 1,000 seconds, or about 17 minutes.
It must also be added that these experiments are not designed to generate usable electricity, but rather to advance the field of nuclear fusion physics for next-generation devices like the ITER-furnace. world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor when completed in 2025. Similar to EAST, experiments on South Korea’s KSTAR reactor set a world record last year, maintaining plasma at more than 100 million degrees. C for 20 seconds. In addition, this country also announced the cooperation in the development of ITER.