We all know that nuclear fusion has a long-standing history of generating vast amounts of energy. Even the energy produced by the Sun is also the result of fusion reactions happening on its surface. But as a matter of fact, human beings on Earth are still unable to reach the temperatures like that of the Sun to harness energy from nuclear fusion. However, you would be amazed to know that recently, a nuclear fusion reactor at the Seoul National University (SNU) in South Korea has smashed all the previous records and reached an excessive temperature of 100 million degrees in a bid to bring us one step closer to attaining the temperature required to process the nuclear fusion reaction, as reported by New Scientist.
Coupled with this, it should be noted that the whopping amount of energy generated in a nuclear fusion reaction is the result of the reaction between two nuclei having low atomic weights. Furthermore, one of the intriguing things about this reaction is that the end product will also be non-radioactive, thereby saving you from the rush of limiting the nuclear fusion reaction. As said, nuclear fusion is the most effective approach to generating massive amounts of energy on a larger scale but there’s one thing that you need to know.
In order to achieve a high temperature like that of the Sun inside a nuclear reactor, the end product achieved is “plasma” that requires to be contained inside the reactor. However, out of many possible ways to contain the plasma, scientists usually prefer a few of them. One of them is to integrate a magnetic field into the container that ultimately generates an “edge transport barrier (ETB)”. This method will decrease the pressure of the heat instantly, which ultimately puts the plasma under control in the reactor.
Another technique that the researchers deployed after modifying is known as the “Internal Transport Barrier (ITB)” which develops high pressure in the central region of the plasma. Yong-Su Na and his colleagues at SNU deployed this method in the recent process and successfully contained the plasma from the core by reducing its density. It has to be noted that instability is linked with both of these methods but as already noted, due to the modifications done in ITB, researchers achieved the process in a very stable condition. However, the system required to be stopped due to some “hardware limitations”.
Only due to this reason, the operations at the KSTAR device were halted and the scientists have now deployed tungsten in place of the carbon materials in the nuclear reactor to further improve the stability level. However, the researchers are optimistic that this recent milestone of achieving a temperature of 100-degree Celsius would further pave a way for more nuclear explorations at the facility. Moreover, the findings of this research project have been published in the journal Nature.