Researchers Have Created an Artificial Sun, And It’s Way Hotter

James Marshall
November 15, 2018

Scientists this week announced that the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor had reached 100 million Celsius. Atomic nuclei begin to fuse together releasing huge amounts of energy but without the massive amount of deadly radiation which our existing nuclear fission reactors create.

Associate professor Matthew Hole from the Australian National University told ABC: "It's certainly a significant step for China's nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world". This reaction produces plasma, which is a state of matter. This differs from nuclear power plants now in operation, which produce energy - as well as radioactive byproducts - by splitting uranium atoms in a process known as fission. To put that into perspective, the center of the sun is around 15 million degrees Celsius. Experts argue that energy generated through this method could be the solution for energy needs as the non-renewable natural sources of energy are depleting day by day. If this happens and the plasma touches the reactor wall, it can easily damage it. Scientists at Google and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are now working on their own nuclear fusion projects as well.

But the goal for EAST is not to send it into space and replace the real thing.

The artificial sun was designed and constructed by China back in 2006. The scientists were able to achieve an electron temperature in the core plasma of over 100 million degrees. They said this is one of the fundamental elements of fusion, so reaching this milestone is a major success in working towards this source of power.

Tokamak reactors hope to generate fusion energy from a plasma trapped in a magnetic field - but the key to igniting the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium atoms is temperature. These challenges include building a reactor that can confine and suspend the plasma, and then scaling this expensive equipment up to the point where it would become commercially viable.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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