The world’s first nuclear fusion reactor, called the “artificial sun,” has been turned on in China.
The reactor holds the world record for maintaining temperatures five times higher than our sun for more than 17 minutes (or at least according to Chinese state media).
Global Times, China’s state-run news agency, broke the storey first. The reactor, which was turned on for the first time in December of last year, has broken the previous world record of maintaining a plasma temperature of 180 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius) for 100 seconds.
The reactor also managed to break its previous temperature record, achieving temperatures of 288 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius) during its current cycle. That’s more than ten times hotter than the sun, in case you didn’t know.
The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor is the world’s largest and most technically advanced nuclear fusion research equipment. To merge highly hot plasma, it uses a very strong magnetic field.
The machine, which is housed in the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Hefei Institute of Physical Science in China’s eastern Anhui province, attempts to duplicate the naturally occurring nuclear fusion reaction in the sun and other stars in order to generate endless, infinite clean energy. It’s also known as a ‘artificial sun’ because of the massive quantity of heat and clean energy it generates.
Since 2006, China has been developing a smaller version of nuclear fusion reactors. Scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France, which is projected to be finished by 2025, would benefit from this.
The next target for EAST, according to Li Miao, director of the physics department at Shenzhen’s Southern University of Science and Technology, could be the ability to run at a constant temperature for a week.
“The breakthrough represents tremendous progress,” he stated in a statement to Global Times. “The ultimate goal should be holding the temperature at a steady level for a long time.”