China Turns On Nuclear-Powered ‘Artificial Sun’ For First Time
China’s nuclear fusion reactor, dubbed an ‘artificial sun’, has been turned on for the first time.
Its official name is the HL-2M Tokamak reactor, located in Chengdu, Sichuan province. However, many have described it as an artificial sun due to the massive heat and power it can produce, using a magnetic field to fuse hot plasma at temperatures of 150 million Celsius – more than 10 times hotter than the core of the real sun.
The reactor finished production last year, the culmination of researchers’ efforts in building a small version of the tech since 2006. Now, they hold the power of the sun in the palms of their hands.
In addition to its own studies, the HL-2M will also provide technical support to the largest reactor in the world – the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), currently being constructed in Marseille, France.
China joins the European Union and five other countries in participating in the project. However, accomplishing such incredible feats won’t come cheap.
In order to achieve nuclear fusion, often seen as one of the most coveted challenges in energy production, the ITER will cost anywhere between £17-49 billion to produce and operate. Due to this, it’ll likely be several decades until it’s a viable way to generate electricity, used exclusively as a scientific project at first.
The UK is also making its bid for a nuclear fusion power station with the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), with hopes production will be completed by 2040.
Professor Ian Chapman, chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said the ‘plans will prove that fusion is not a far-off dream, but a dawning reality,’ the Independent reports.
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