Welcome to China, the land of hardworking folks who have managed to create a hydrogen gas plasma that is reportedly three times hotter than the sun. It has been produced via nuclear fusion and the reaction was sustained for almost 2 minutes. This seemingly ordinary experiment is anything but mundane, the time period for which it was sustained was the highest time anyone has been able to keep this reaction going. The reaction was achieved thanks to a doughnut-shaped reactor at the Institute of Physical Science in Hefei, China.
It’s the time it was sustained for that makes this experiment so amazingly peculiar. Plasma this hot has only been sustained for a few seconds previously. Chinese scientists were able to achieve a time of 102 seconds during the most recent test that was carried out. So, what’s the point of this whole project? That’s a good question.
The basic aim is to come up with plasma that can be sustained for virtually forever and harness the huge energy that is present in the form of heat, thus helping in combating the energy crisis that the world is facing.
It has been named EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak). The plasma that was achieved reached a temperature of 50 million °C (equivalent to 8600 times the surface temperature of the Sun). In order to stabilize the plasma reaction, magnetic fields along with superconducting coils were used inside the chambers. The end goal of the research is to touch the 100 million °C temperature mark and keep it sustained at that temperature for 1,000 seconds.
The next problem that has to be tackled is about how to harness this energy. Since the fusion reactions never were sustained, energy extraction was never focused on. A number of countries are now looking into constructing a functional fusion reactor and thus, taking out the dependency on fossil fuels altogether.