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Fusion mantra: Here's the artificial sun

Scientists in Gujarat are testing a device which will make an artificial sun for 1,000 sec, reports Reshma Patil.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2006 02:35 IST
Reshma Patil
Reshma Patil

In a laboratory on the banks of the Sabarmati in Gujarat, scientists are testing a doughnut-shaped device, which they hope will make a little artificial sun for 1,000 seconds, many million degrees hotter than the sun's core.

A team of 20 scientists at the Gandhinagar-based Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) is designing components for ITER, the global nuclear fusion project in France. India is among the seven parties involved in the ITER project.

The consortium's 35-year experiment aims to make an artificial sun at 100 million-degree temperatures to produce 500 MW — a test for production of abundant clean energy.

But the Gujarat participants are readying an ITER preview for 2007, to create an artificial sun by confining hot plasma gas at 20-40 million degrees in a magnetic cage.

"Our experiment began in the 90s. Now it is reaching a milestone," PK Kaw, India-ITER head and IPR director, told HT.

"Ours will be among the first machines to study several ITER physics and technology issues, giving valuable inputs to ITER construction."

"Although we are making 10 per cent of ITER, we now access its enormous database," said Kaw. "That database is crucial to build India's nuclear fusion reactor."

"There are similar experiments in China and Korea, but ours will be the first to confine plasma in a steady state for 1,000 seconds," Kaw said.

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First Published: Dec 17, 2006 02:03 IST