China Advances Closer to Creating an ‘Artificial Sun’ with 1 Million Amp Plasma on Tokamak
China’s National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has achieved a significant milestone in the pursuit of creating an “artificial sun,” a controlled nuclear fusion reaction. The HL-2A tokamak device successfully generated plasma with a current exceeding 1 million amperes or 1 MA in an enhanced confinement state (H-mode).
CNNC confirmed the successful operation of the HL-2A device in the enhanced confinement mode, where a substantial increase in plasma temperature and density can be achieved. This marks a crucial step in the development of controlled nuclear fusion, which scientists believe could provide the world with safe, environmentally clean, and practically limitless energy. Unlike nuclear fission used in contemporary nuclear power plants, fusion produces fewer radioactive waste products.
CNNC also noted that the new reactor overcame key technical challenges related to the use of a more powerful heating system and an advanced exhaust device. The device was developed at the Southwest Institute of Physics in Chengdu (SWIP).
However, the HL-2A is not the first device capable of generating and sustaining extremely hot plasma. In April, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), a toroidal-shaped device designed for magnetic confinement of hot plasma to achieve nuclear fusion, set a new record by sustaining plasma for almost 7 minutes.
Scientists worldwide are working towards creating such “artificial suns,” which generate energy by heating hydrogen atoms to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius, causing them to fuse. The main challenge lies in controlling this process to prevent the reactor from melting down.
China is also actively involved in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project in France, in collaboration with the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. The country aims for energy self-sufficiency, with nuclear energy playing a pivotal role.
According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), China has tripled its nuclear capacity over the last decade. From 2011 to 2022, China filed more patents for nuclear fusion technology than any other country.
- I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.
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