Chinese scientists have reached an important milestone in their quest to harness energy from nuclear fusion, a process that is present naturally in the sun.
According to reports, researchers from China’s Hefei Institutes of Physical Science announced that its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor — an “artificial sun” designed to replicate the process our natural Sun uses to generate energy — just hit a whopping temperature milestone: 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit).
That’s really hot!
In comparison, the core of the sun only reaches around 27 million degrees Fahrenheit, which means that the EAST reactor was, for a short period of time, about sx times hotter than the core of the sun.
Scientists working on the EAST reactor have been working on the experiment to achieve nuclear fusion since 2006.
Our sun produces enormous amounts of energy through nuclear fusion–which occurs when two hydrogen nuclei combine. This way, our sun generates heat.
If we were to find a way to harness this, we would have before us a nearly limitless source of clear energy.
And China’s EAST reactor could be the way to do it.
Using magnetic fields, scientists control plasma so that stable nuclear fission can take place.
And it’s that plasma inside the EAST reactor that was heated to such mind-bending temperatures.
The milestone achieved by EAST is not only amazing because of the incredible temperature that was achieved, but it also happens to be the minimum temperature scientists say is needed in order to produce a self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction on Earth.
Now that scientists have met the minimum temperature that is needed for the artificial sun to heat the plasma, they can focus on the next steps towards their path to near-limitless energy and stable nuclear fusion.