China marked a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities by successfully powering up its artificial sun nuclear fusion reactor for the first time.
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device. Scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.
It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius. This is approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
Located in southwestern Sichuan province, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” due to the enormous heat and power it produces.
“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,” said sources.
Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.
The device is to be used in collaboration with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – world’s largest nuclear fusion research project based in France.
Fusion is considered the Holy Grail of energy and is what powers our sun.
It merges atomic nuclei to create massive amounts of energy — the opposite of the fission process used in atomic weapons and nuclear power plants, which splits them into fragments.
Achieving fusion is both extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive, with the total cost of ITER estimated at $22.5 billion.