The Sun in the EAST

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, or EAST as it’s known has set a new record in China for their ‘artificial sun’. A team of Chinese scientists at the EAST facility managed to set the record by nearly doubling the burn time of extremely hot plasma. This is a massive step towards the dream of a fusion reactor powered world.

The team maintained the temperature of the plasma at 10 times that of the sun’s core, not only did they achieve this staggering heat, they set a world record for the longest time doing it. In near perfect conditions, the team managed to keep this heat for more than 100 seconds, beating the previous record of about a minute.

The facility as EAST is located in Hefei, which is a southeast province of Anhui. EAST was also the host of the previous record, which was set last year and it’s safe to say that scientist will be looking to further that record by this time next year.

There have been other experiments of this nature, and some of these have even lasted longer than the team at EAST managed too. But these power sources were far less stable and had been found extremely difficult to control. Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak facility has taken the lead here by creating a stable fusion reaction in perfect conditions.

Speaking with Yang Hongwei, the director of energy efficiency center he said “This breakthrough is an important step amid the transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy,”

This latest experiment is indeed a huge breakthrough and has all but reaffirmed China’s position as the world leaders in fusion technology. China is laying down their foundations for a clean and limitless energy sourced future.

Looking at this from a long-term perspective a fusion sourced power supply is the ultimate solution to the world’s energy problems. After achieving a limitless, clean energy supply the possibilities become almost endless and go much further than combatting climate change.

The nuclear fusions occur when two atoms, which are the same element collide and merge, creating a huge amount of energy. A similar chain reaction takes place in the sun, hence the title of ‘artificial sun’ being given.

The EAST facility in Hefei uses a ring-shaped tokamak device, which was invented in the 1950s by Soviet physicists. The tokamak devices generate the plasma in which a fusion reaction can take place.

The device also produces a strong magnetic field so that the plasma itself can be contained. This prevents any plasma from coming into contact with the inner wall of the reaction chamber.

This has been the main issue from other facilities around the world. The plasma needs to be kept stable for the fusion reaction to last longer than a few seconds. With China investing heavily in fusion reaction technology, the results have spoken for themselves and with a new facility being constructed in France, there maybe more to come. Investing more than any other country in the world has produced a great step towards a sustainable future.

Fusion power is definitely the future of our energy sources, but we are unlikely to have it anytime soon. This is a big step towards that dream, but unless we see a miracle in the next experiments, we’re going to have to wait a while longer.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.