South Korean Artificial Sun Burns Hotter Than Star For Record-Breaking 20 Seconds
South Korea’s ‘artificial sun’ has set a new world record after burning for 20 seconds at more than 100 million degrees.
Named the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), the machine is a fusion reactor where ions and electrons are heated and separated and is currently based at the Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE).
Previous fusion devices had not been capable of heating plasma to that temperature for that period of time. The previous record set was achieved by the device in 2018 after it burnt for eight seconds.
For those of you with non-scientific brains like myself, plasma is a ‘superheated matter’ that gets so hot that ‘the electrons are ripped away from the atoms forming an ionized gas’, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC).
To recreate the sun’s fusion reactions, hydrogen isotopes must be placed inside KSTAR for it to create a plasma state that causes ions and electrons to separate. The ions then must be heated and maintain at the extremely high temperatures.
Speaking about the recent achievements, Director Si-Woo Yoon of the KSTAR Research Center at the KFE explained as per Phys Org:
The technologies required for long operations of 100 million- plasma are the key to the realisation of fusion energy, and the KSTAR’s success in maintaining the high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds will be an important turning point in the race for securing the technologies for the long high-performance plasma operation, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future.
Yong-Su Na, professor at the department of Nuclear Engineering at Seoul National University, added, ‘The success of the KSTAR experiment in the long, high-temperature operation by overcoming some drawbacks of the ITB modes brings us a step closer to the development of technologies for realisation of nuclear fusion energy.’
According to the Independent, the goal is for KSTAR to achieve operation for 300 seconds at a temperature of more than 100 million degrees, with hopes this will be achieved by 2025.
The reaction, which mimics that which takes place in the Sun, could potentially provide a powerful and limitless source of clean energy. This would be achieved by releasing massive amounts of energy that can be converted into electricity.
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