China’s Artificial Sun


By Divvij Chandna

The amount of energy being consumed by humans is increasing at a very fast rate. The major fulfilment of our energy requirements is done by fossil fuels and hence, they will get depleted very soon. So, a cheap and efficient fuel is required to sustain life on Earth. Nuclear fusion reactors can be used to create such an energy source and our desperately required by mankind. Once nuclear fusion is conducted successfully, the amount of energy generated can be greater than the initial input of energy! Experiments on nuclear fusion are being performed under the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak(East) project. These are being conducted by a large number of countries, and China has gained the most success till now.

At the Institute of Physical Science in Hefei, scientists have created an artificial sun using nuclear fusion. The sun was sustained for 102 seconds at 49.999 million degrees celsius(3 times hotter than the sun and 3600 times hotter than Earth’s core). The plasma created inside the sun can be used as anextremely efficient fuel; the energy given by one kilogram of this fuel is equivalent to 100 million kilograms of fossil fuels!

Unlike nuclear fission, where atoms are divided, nuclear fusion merges atoms together leading to a higher production of energy. In this experiment, two types of hydrogen gas— deuterium and tritium — are merged in a toroidal magnetic chamber at 100 million degrees celsius. This results in the formation of a hot ionised gas called plasma which provides massive amounts of energy.

Energy produced using nuclear fusion is much more viable than the sources present today. It is carbon free, produces no nuclear waste, is safe to use, and, as mentioned above, is extremely efficient. The only problem is the inability to sustain such high temperatures without melting the chamber outside. Hopefully, this problem is solved in the near future and depletion of fossil fuels is no longer a problem in our world.

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