According to official media, China's "artificial sun" has established a new world record by superheating a loop of plasma to temperatures five times higher than the sun for more than 17 minutes. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) nuclear fusion reactor maintained a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit (70 million degrees Celsius) for 1,056 seconds. Scientists have taken a modest but crucial step closer to developing a near-unlimited source of renewable energy as a result of this feat. The Tore Supra tokamak in France set the previous record in 2003 when plasma in a coiling loop stayed at identical temperatures for 390 seconds. EAST has already set a record by operating for 101 seconds at an incredible 216 million F in May 2021. (120 million C). The centre of the sun, on the other hand, reaches temperatures of roughly 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million C). For more than 70 years, scientists have attempted to harness the power of nuclear fusion, the mechanism by which stars burn. So-called main-sequence stars can transform matter into light and heat by fusing hydrogen atoms to make helium at extremely high pressures and temperatures, creating vast amounts of energy without releasing greenhouse gases or long-lasting radioactive waste. However, recreating the circumstances that exist inside the hearts of stars is no easy undertaking.
The tokamak, the most popular fusion reactor design, works by super-heating plasma (one of the four states of matter, composed of positively charged ions and negatively charged free electrons) before confining it inside a doughnut-shaped reactor chamber with intense magnetic fields. However, keeping the turbulent and superheated plasma coils in place long enough for nuclear fusion has been difficult. In 1958, Soviet scientist Natan Yavlinsky designed the first tokamak, but no one has ever succeeded in building an experimental reactor that can produce more energy than it consumes. One of the major roadblocks has been dealing with a plasma that is hot enough to ignite. Because they must function at considerably lower pressures than where fusion naturally occurs inside the cores of stars, fusion reactors require extremely high temperatures – several times hotter than the sun. Cooking plasma to temperatures hotter than the sun is the easy part; corralling it such that it doesn't burn through the reactor walls (either using lasers or magnetic fields) without destroying the fusion process is more difficult. EAST is anticipated to cost China more than $1 trillion by the time it is completed in June, and it is being used to test technology for a larger fusion project, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is now under construction in Marseille, France. According to Live Science, ITER, the world's largest nuclear reactor, is the result of a collaboration between 35 countries, including every member of the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, India, and the United States. The fusion reactor is projected to be operational by 2025, providing scientists with even more information about the practicality of harnessing stellar power on Earth. China is also pursuing its nuclear fusion power development plans, undertaking inertial confinement fusion experiments, and planning to build a new tokamak by the early 2030s. In other news, the first practical fusion reactor in the United States might be finished as early as 2025. A British business intends to commercially produce fusion-generated electricity by 2030.
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