Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - China’s artificial sun brings nuclear fusion energy closer



China’s artificial sun brings nuclear fusion energy closer

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
China’s HL-2M nuclear fusion device, known as the new generation of ‘artificial sun’, is displayed at a research laboratory in Chengdu, in eastern China’s Sichuan province on December 4 last year. AFP

China’s artificial sun brings nuclear fusion energy closer

On May 28, the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, ran its experimental controllable nuclear fusion device and kept the plasma stable at a temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds and at 160 million C for 20 seconds.

The previous record was 20 seconds at 100 C set by the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), South Korea’s superconducting fusion device, on December 28.

In popular reports, the Chinese device is nicknamed the “Chinese artificial sun”, and its latest milestone means humankind has made further progress toward the goal of using nuclear fusion as a source of energy.

Unlike nuclear fission power plants which split atomic nuclei apart, nuclear fusion merges atomic nuclei to potentially create huge amounts of cheap and clean energy. The deuterohydrogen contained in one litre of seawater would provide energy equivalent to burning 300 litres of gasoline, without emitting any pollutants that harm the environment, since the by-products are helium and neutrons. That’s why researchers are paying huge attention to this technology.

The challenge is maintaining high-enough temperatures for a long enough period of time for the technology to be viable. The device needs to raise the temperature of the plasma to above 100 million C, as well as confine it within a small space.

In order to solve this problem, there is both competition and cooperation among major researchers. On July 28, 2020, China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US co-launched the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor in Paris, which is a major collaborative project. Scientists in various countries are also doing separate research.

Although nuclear fusion power still remains a possibility rather than a certainty, China’s efforts are helping to bring it closer.

CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four