The world’s first artificial sun, which has the potential to generate almost infinite clean energy, has broken the plasma record.


The world’s first artificial sun, which has the potential to generate almost infinite clean energy, has broken the plasma record.

The Korea Institute of Fusion Energy’s Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) reactor maintained super-hot plasma under a magnetic field for 30 seconds, boosting researchers’ hopes of bringing nuclear fusion—the mechanism that powers the stars—down to Earth.

The breakthrough advances scientists’ goal of harnessing the fusion that occurs at the Sun’s core and reproducing it in a controlled manner on Earth.

Fusion power, if successful, will give a safe, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and abundant source of energy to the world.

Nuclear fusion (which powers the world’s nuclear reactors) is practically the polar opposite of nuclear fission. Fission is the breaking apart of heavy atoms like uranium, whereas fusion is the smashing together of light atoms to produce heavier atoms and energy.

Fusion is a more environmentally friendly process since it produces no radioactive waste and uses light, abundant materials like hydrogen, which can be sourced from seawater, rather than expensive and scarce elements like uranium or plutonium.

One liter of water might theoretically provide enough raw material for fusion to produce as much energy as 300 liters of oil burning.

Plasma, a state of matter formed by the tremendous gravitational pressure and intense heat of stars like the Sun, is replicated by nuclear fusion devices like KSTAR, also known as tokamaks.

Hydrogen atoms collide at high speeds in this super-hot star plasma, forming helium atoms. These fusions result in massive amounts of energy being emitted by stars.

To replicate this, tokamaks—also known as “artificial suns”—must heat heavy helium (deuterium) to temperatures of millions of degrees Fahrenheit with lasers before enclosing it within massive magnetic fields.

These artificial suns have kept the plasma at these temperatures long enough for atomic nuclei to start smashing together to generate fusion energy.

KSTAR achieved a world record for keeping plasma heated by retaining plasma heated to 90 million degrees Fahrenheit for 70 seconds in 2016. China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) set a new record in 2017 when it maintained 90 million °F plasma for 102 seconds.

While this temperature is higher than those found in the Sun during fusion processes (approximately 60 million degrees Fahrenheit), experts on Earth are unable to recreate it. This is a condensed version of the information.


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