One of the great energy projects of the 21st century is that of achieve nuclear fusion. Creating a reactor that allows the generation of clean and unlimited energy by replicating the nuclear fusion reactions that take place in the Sun, at 15 million degrees Celsius, is what China is trying little by little with its “artificial sun”, generating extreme temperatures and maintaining them for long periods.
The experimental fusion reactor in He’féi, in the Chinese province of Anhui, managed to finish 2021 beating its own temperature record with continuous plasma operation for more than seventeen minutes operating at 70 million degrees. Five times the temperature of the real Sun.
Using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuel, he managed to maintain that temperature for 1,056 seconds as reported South China Morning Post.
The previous record of 120 million degrees for 101 seconds falls far behind the goal of sustaining these temperatures for as long as possible.
Previously, even higher temperatures were achieved, up to 120 million degrees Celsius in the Tokamak reactor, but for a much shorter time, 101 seconds, less than two minutes. Even for twenty seconds 160 million degrees were reached last spring.
The challenge is precisely to make it possible maintain those extreme temperatures for as long as possible, in a stable way, something that is still far on the horizon.
The Chinese researchers of the ITER project (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which has been in place since 2007, already warned that the roadmap to achieve fully operational commercial solutions handles 2060 as an approximate date, although it is not a definitive date, since these forecasts have been varying during the different phases of the project .
In the European Union there is a project under development, EUROFusion, to assemble a reactor with which to carry out experiments like this, although it will not be ready until the end of 2025, at which point the first tests with plasma will begin.