China Has Turned On Its Artificial Sun For The First Time

The new generation HL-2M thermonuclear device, respectively called an "artificial sun", is smaller but three times more effective than its predecessor.

The new generation HL-2M thermonuclear device, which experts called the “artificial sun“, was put into operation in the southwest of China in the city of Chengdu.

The HL-2M Tokamak is by far China’s largest and most advanced fusion reactor which will lead the way to a better future of clean energy.

It will be used to generate and contain plasma at temperatures that could, to this point, reach 150 million degrees Celsius. As I saw several comparisons, this means that it can reach temperatures times higher than that of the solar core.

Four days ago on December 4, the Chinese "artificial sun" HL-2M Tokamak achieved its first official plasma discharge. Credit: China Atomic Energy Authority
Four days ago on December 4, the Chinese “artificial sun” HL-2M Tokamak achieved its first official plasma discharge. Credit: China Atomic Energy Authority

The HL-2M is located in the southwestern province of Sichuan and was completed late last year. It received the nickname “artificial sun” for the temperature and power that it can develop. The Chinese scientists plan to use the Tokamak in partnership with their colleagues who are working on the ITER International Experimental Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the world’s largest reactor of this type, located in France. Completion of its construction is expected in 2025.

The device will be used to study clean energy. The Tokamak is a tire-like vacuum chamber. Вith the help of a magnetic field, a heated plasma rotates and could reach unimaginable temperatures. The HL-2M uses tritium and deuterium ions as fuel. They are introduced into a device for plasma production and controlled nuclear fusion.

“The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China’s strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” the state-run People’s Daily said.

It is noted that the main parameters of the HL-2M “artificial sun” are superior to similar Chinese developments according to Xu Min, director of the Institute of Thermonuclear Technology of the Southwest Academy of Physics, which is part of the China National Nuclear Corporation.

Compared to the “predecessor” HL-2A, the HL-2M is more compact in size. Physicists have successfully heated the plasma inside it to a temperature of 150 million degrees Celsius, which is almost three times higher than in HL-2A.

It is also claimed that the researchers were able to maintain the enhanced plasma confinement mode for 10 seconds. For similar projects in other countries of the world, this figure is less than one second. In other words, this “artificial sun” is ten times more effective than any similar technological wonder around the world.

This is just one of the many breakthroughs we saw from China throughout this year. We also should not forget about the Chang’e 5 mission to the Moon which has been nothing but a major success to this point. In about 7-8 days, it should return with the first soil samples from the Moon since the 1970s.

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Sources:

• Afp. (n.d.). China Just Switched on Its ‘Artificial Sun’ Nuclear Fusion Reactor. Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://www.sciencealert.com/china-just-powered-up-its-artificial-sun-nuclear-fusion-reactor

• China turns on its ‘artificial sun’ in quest for nuclear fusion energy. (2020, December 05). Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3112684/china-turns-its-artificial-sun-quest-nuclear-fusion-energy

• China turns on nuclear-powered ‘artificial sun’ for first time. (2020, December 07). Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-nuclear-fusion-reactor-artificial-sun-chengdu-b1767393.html?utm_content=Echobox

• Joshkelliott. (2020, December 07). China successfully activates nuclear-powered ‘artificial sun’. Retrieved December 08, 2020, from https://globalnews.ca/news/7505850/china-artificial-sun/

Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.
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