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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Here comes China’s ‘artificial sun’, a likely source for clean, limitless energy

The HL-2M Tokamak, China’s next-generation “artificial sun,” is expected to be operational in 2020 as installation work has gone smoothly since the delivery of the coil system in June.

world Updated: Nov 29, 2019 17:09 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
The device works by replicating the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels.
The device works by replicating the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels.(Photo: Chinese state media)
         

Chinese scientists are close to deploying an “artificial sun” by 2020, state media has reported, adding that the device will be able to provide clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion.

“The HL-2M Tokamak, China’s next-generation “artificial sun,” is expected to be operational in 2020 as installation work has gone smoothly since the delivery of the coil system in June,” official news agency, Xinhua reported this week.

The device works by replicating the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels.

“The new apparatus, with a more advanced structure and control mode, is expected to generate plasmas hotter than 200 million degrees Celsius,” said Duan Xuru, head of the Southwestern Institute of Physics under the China National Nuclear Corporation was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

The report added that the artificial sun will provide key technical support for China’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, as well as the self-designing and building of fusion reactors.

“China is among seven members funding ITER, an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project that is building a tokamak nuclear fusion reactor in France, considered to be the world’s largest magnetic confinement physics experiment,” the Caixin news website reported.

In 2018, the experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST), or the country’s first “Chinese artificial sun” achieved an electron temperature of over 100 million degrees in its core plasma, a key step towards the test running of fusion reactor, a lab in east China’s Anhui province had said.

“The ultimate goal of EAST is to create nuclear fusion like the Sun using deuterium abound in the sea to provide a steady stream of clean energy,” Gong Xianzu, director of the experiment, had then said.

The temperature achieved at the EAST experiment was about seven times more than the interior of the Sun, which is about 15 million degrees Celsius.

Gong said the experimental temperature was about 50 million degrees celsius in 2017.

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