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China’s Artificial Sun

  Jul 06, 2020

China’s Artificial Sun

What is Artificial sun of China?

The HL-2M Tokamak, China’s next-generation “artificial sun” is a reactor which provides clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion. The device works by replicating the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels. This device will reach temperatures over 200 million degrees Celsius. That's around 13 times hotter than the core of the Sun.

What is Nuclear fusion?

Nuclear fusion is a process where two light nuclei (parts of an atom) are used to create a single "heavy" nucleus. This "nuclear reaction" releases huge amounts of energy. That's because the "heavy" nucleus is not as heavy as the total mass of the two "light" nuclei combined. This "lost mass" can then be changed into huge amounts of energy. Fusion is a common occurrence inside stars, like the Sun at the center of our own galaxy. This is how the Sun is able to provide so much heat and light. But kickstarting a nuclear fusion reaction on Earth is difficult due high temperature requirement and containment of plasma at this temperature.

Why is this significant?

By harnessing the power produced through nuclear fusion we could tap into almost limitless clean energy — something we are in dire need of given our Earth's environmental concerns. Scientists hope that the "artificial sun" will help harness the power of nuclear fusion. This would bring humanity a step closer to creating "unlimited clean energy", by mimicking reactions that naturally occur inside the Sun proper.

What is technical achievement in this project?

Researchers around the world have been trying to attain fusion reaction on earth for decades. The main issue has been finding an affordable way to contain millions degree hot plasma in one space and keeping it stable enough for fusion to occur.

What is a Tokamak?

TOKAMAK is a device which uses a powerful magnetic field to trap hot plasma.

What is plasma?

A plasma is a gas that has been energized to the point that some of the electrons break free from, but travel with, their nucleus. Plasma is the fourth state of matter. To put it very simply, a plasma is an ionized gas, a gas into which sufficient energy is provided to free electrons from atoms or molecules and to allow both species, ions and electrons, to coexist. Plasmas are the most common state of matter in the universe. They are even common here on earth.

The Earth's ionosphere is a plasma and the magnetosphere contains plasma in the Earth's surrounding space environment. The interior of the sun is an example of fully ionized plasma, along with the solar corona and stars.