China’s East reactor reached a record temperature of 120 million degrees, holding it for 101 seconds. A new world record that brings us ever closer to a truly functioning fusion reactor
The China heralds a new step towards a reactor a merger really working, and convenient. L’Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (East), the experimental reactor ofHefei Institute of Physical Sciences, in fact, has set a new world record, pushing the plasma inside it up to a temperature of 120 million degrees celsius per ben 101 seconds. An important leap forward announced, for now, by the Chinese media, which would take the entire planet one step closer to exploiting the much-desired merger nuclear, a clean and unlimited source of energy that mimics the reactions that power the stars.
Unlike what happens in a normal one reactor a fission, in which an atom of a heavy element decays into lighter elements, a fusion reactor attempts to obtain the fusion of two light atoms to produce a heavier one, a process that under the right conditions produces energy in excess which can be exploited for the most disparate purposes. It is considered by many to be the Holy Grail in the field of clean energy, because it would allow electricity to be obtained without greenhouse gas emissions or other polluting gases, and with a negligible production of radioactive waste.
The problem is that it is a technologically very complex process to achieve. Inside the stars, it is gravity that does the dirty work, compressing the atoms of elements such as helium with such force that they fuse together. On Earth this process is impossible, and one must resort to temperature to achieve a similar result. If in the core of ours Sole temperatures of about 20 million degrees, a land-based fusion reactor must aim much higher to hope to obtain energy from the physical reactions that take place within it. 100 million degrees are considered by the scientific community as an important milestone, because it is believed that it is the minimum temperature that would allow to obtain one reaction self-sufficient, that is, the point where external energy is no longer needed to power the fusion processes, and the reactor is potentially able to start producing more energy than it consumes.
Previously, the world record in this field belonged to South Korea, which last year with his Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (or Kstar) had managed to keep for 20 seconds a temperature of about 100 million degrees. Bruscolini, compared to the new goal announced by the Chinese media: 120milioni of degrees per 101 seconds they are a major leap forward, starting to make the finish line seem like a really working fusion reactor, really close at hand.
It is good to get your hands on: even with the successes of recent years, we are still decades away from this goal, and not everyone in the scientific community is convinced that it is even possible to really achieve it. Given the stakes, however, doubts and problems will not stop the research. On the contrary: the next big step forward is already planned for 2025, when the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, an international project of which China is also part, and of which the East is a precursor, should finally begin to operate, with the injection of the first plasma.