(ORDO NEWS) — The South Korean thermonuclear reactor has set a new world record: an “artificial sun” maintains a plasma flow of 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.
Unlocking the possibilities of nuclear fusion has been a dream of scientists since the early 20th century, but it turns out that solving this puzzle is not easy. Nuclear fusion, which works by combining two atomic nuclei into a larger nucleus, releases more energy than it consumes.
In fact, a working thermonuclear reactor will make it possible to use the energy of the Sun obtained here on Earth, potentially solving the energy needs of the planet.
Scientists in South Korea are now one step closer to realizing this dream thanks to the superconducting thermonuclear device KSTAR, dubbed the Korean artificial sun.
On November 24 this year, the reactor maintained a continuous flow of plasma for 20 seconds, while reaching an ion temperature of 100 million Celsius.
For comparison, the temperature of the Sun’s core reaches about 15 million Celsius.
The latest achievement is the result of the work of scientists at the Korea Thermonuclear Energy Institute (KFE) Research Center in partnership with the National University (SNU) and the US Columbia University.
Tokamak devices like the KSTAR recreate the fiery fusion reactions that occur on the Sun, but here on Earth.
According to the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), there are about 250 tokamak devices in the world.
Tokamak is an abbreviation of the Russian term for “toroidal chamber with magnetic coils”.
Two Russian researchers in the late 1960s were the first scientists to achieve plasma confinement and high temperatures in such a device.
The KSTAR device uses hydrogen isotopes to create a plasma stream – one of the four basic states of matter – where ions and electrons are separated.
To hold on to ions, you need to maintain incredibly high temperatures.
Although KSTAR is not the first device to reach a plasma temperature of 100 million C, it is the first to last over 10 seconds.
Xi-Woo Yun, Director of KSTAR Research Center at KFE: “The technology required for long-term plasma operations is the key to realizing fusion energy, and KSTAR’s success in maintaining high-temperature plasma will be an important turning point in the race to provide technologies for long-term high-throughput plasma operation. a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future”.
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