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Fusion reactor reaches 100 million degrees C


Posted on Thursday, 15 November, 2018 | Comment icon 19 comments

The reactor achieved record-breaking temperatures. Image Credit: NASA/SDO
An experimental nuclear fusion reactor in China has achieved a temperature six times hotter than the Sun.
Often seen as the Holy Grail of power generation, nuclear fusion is the same process that produces energy in the Sun and works by fusing hydrogen nuclei together to create helium.

Unlike nuclear fission which comes with the inherent risk of a meltdown, fusion is much cleaner and safer while the hydrogen fuel used by the process is so abundant that it is practically limitless.

Efforts to harness this revolutionary source of power have been ongoing for years, but now China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor in Hefei has reported a major breakthrough in the form of core temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius.

The milestone is important because it takes such extreme heat to fuse hydrogen atoms here on Earth.

"We accomplished a high-density H-mode high-beta non-inductive steady-state operation of the EAST," said researcher Gong Xianzu. "By analyzing the physical integration, we can meet the requirements of a future fusion reactor in terms of normalized parameters."

While there is still a long way to go before nuclear fusion can replace conventional power plants, the achievement takes us one step closer to a world with limitless clean energy.

Exactly how far in to the future that world will be however remains unclear.


Source: Science Alert | Comments (19)

Tags: Nuclear Fusion

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Ozymandias on 15 November, 2018, 19:51
I know that fusion is not against the laws of physics but as an engineer†I very much doubt that a practical working fusion reactor is possible. The physical problems associated with sustained proximity to such enormous temperatures, and the consequent radiated heat energy, is a concern. At the moment these fusion 'reactors' run for seconds. Imagine one of them†running for hours or days. How will radiated heat energy be safely contained within the reactor and not damage its surroundings? Normal power plants - engines - are supplied with way more energy than they convert/deliver to useful work. ... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by Seti42 on 15 November, 2018, 22:28
Even if a group or nation managed to build a working fusion reactor that produced "limitless clean energy", what's to prevent them from charging the rest of us tons of money to access it? Greed is the most powerful force on earth, IMO.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 November, 2018, 22:53
Basic economics and basic science. Fusion will not be the only form of energy. As long as there are alternatives you can not over charge or customers will simply go elsewhere. Also it's not like oil. There is no geographical limitations on where it can be produced. If the profits are high enough it will encourage others to invest in research, leading to other viable, competing fusion reactors, forcing the price down.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 15 November, 2018, 23:05
† Somebody supplies electricity and we pay for it. Isn't that how it works allready ? No one, who have any idea what they are talking about, have even claimed that fusion energy would be free.
Comment icon #14 Posted by AllPossible on 16 November, 2018, 0:06
Amazing. 180 million F
Comment icon #15 Posted by paperdyer on 16 November, 2018, 14:24
Did the article indicate what type of insulation was used?† Also how big of a disaster would we have with a run-away reaction/meltdown?
Comment icon #16 Posted by kartikg on 16 November, 2018, 14:44
How do they measure such high temperatures? Is it through some sort of spectrum analysis? I don't see any sensor lasting in such high temperatures.†
Comment icon #17 Posted by jbondo on 16 November, 2018, 15:46
"one step closer to a world with limitless clean energy." LOL! And what giant is going to allow this to happen before every last drop of oil has been squeezed out, used, recycled, used, rinse, repeat until all is gone? Big oil is the most powerful monopoly on the planet. Not a monopoly you say? Well, when a few big companies work together to control the main energy source of the world, it's a monopoly to me. Not to mention, big oil has big auto and others in it's hip pocket. If not for Elon Musk, EV's would still be a novelty and a waste of time (according to big auto). I'd love to see one of ... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by kobolds on 19 November, 2018, 15:47
I think the break through will be that the chinese able to built one cheap .†
Comment icon #19 Posted by Blizno on 23 November, 2018, 20:07
Fossil Fuel power plants are probably not much more efficient. They dump their waste heat into air or water. Fusion power would replace fossil fuel power so the amount of heat pumped into the environment might not change much. Fission power plants also dump a huge amount of waste heat, usually into the air. That's why they often have huge cooling towers. † As for containing fusion for more than a few moments, that is probably one of the huge problems preventing us from having fusion power. I don't know why it would be impossible to eventually come up with ways to handle the tremendous heat and... [More]


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