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China’s Experimental Fusion Reactor

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A Chinese fusion reactor managed to sustain plasma at temperatures of over 90 million degrees for 102 seconds, according to an article published in the South China Morning Post. That’s over a minute in which a machine sustained an electrically charged gas with a temperature approximately three times hotter than the core of the sun.

This achievement at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Heifi, China, comes just days after German chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the Wendelstein 7-X, another experimental fusion reactor. At the time, the German group was quite pleased to create 80 million degree Celsius hydrogen plasma for a quarter of a second, an achievement now dwarfed by the Chinese machine. However that comparison doesn’t mean too much, as the two machines are in vastly different stages of their life cycles. While the Wendelstein 7-X is just gearing up, creating its first hydrogen plasma last week, EAST has been going for years. It created its first plasma in September of 2006, nearly a decade ago.

EAST is a tokamak, a doughnut shaped device originally designed by the Soviets. It holds the plasma in place using magnetic fields, and operates in pulses. The Wendelstein 7-X, in contrast, is a stellarator, a similar design but one that can theoretically operate continuously, like an artificial sun.

Both are expecting to be dwarfed by the ITER, a tokamak-style fusion reactor currently under construction in France. When completed, the internationally-funded reactor will be the largest in the world.

ITER’s central goal is to build a reactor capable of producing 10 times the power needed to run it. They hope that once it is built, it will operate for around 20 years.

For the record, the hottest plasma temperature created in a lab was 510 million degrees Celsius at the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor which operated at Princeton between 1982 and 1997.

popular science

14 Comments on "China’s Experimental Fusion Reactor"

  1. makati1 on Tue, 9th Feb 2016 8:16 pm 

    Anything you can do…

    But it will never get commercial. Less than two minutes is not 24/7/365.

  2. verstapp on Wed, 10th Feb 2016 1:05 am 

    But how much useful heat did they get out of EAST, and how did they get it out?

  3. Kenz300 on Wed, 10th Feb 2016 9:00 am 

    Wind and solar are the future………

  4. HARM on Wed, 10th Feb 2016 12:15 pm 

    Fusion: the flying car of energy production. Always “20 years” away from being commercially viable.

  5. Bob Owens on Wed, 10th Feb 2016 1:08 pm 

    I am so tired of this fusion nonsense. This site should not allow articles about fusion; they just waste people’s time. ‘Nuf said.

  6. Wow on Sun, 14th Feb 2016 1:23 pm 

    Fusion power would be SLIGHTLY more useful than a flying car.

    Wind and solar can not provide enough power alone (although I am a strong believer in them).

    Fusion is so worth cracking. We really really need it.

  7. stas peterson on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 4:30 pm 

    Advances in controlled Fusion are coming relatively more rapidly now. The physical construction of the ITER reactor is now happening after years of design. Soon designs will begin to emerge for commercial Fusion power plants.

    The proponents of wind and solar don’t realize the nonsense that they spout. Neither energy source can be sized up to provide even a fraction of today’s current energy demand, never mind tomorrow’s demand.

    Now that we are containing plasmas for several seconds, long enough to know that the long list of plasma instabilities have all been seen, and now conquered. These instabilities occur all appear with in micro or milli seconds or small fractions of a single second.

    Further advances are sure to come. It affirms the certaincy that by the end of first quarter of this century controlled Fusion will be fully understood; and that the world can begin to replace its energy supply with a clean and inexhaustible source.

    The CAGW concerns will have been allayed, even if proved genuine. The rest of the century’s energy demands will be provided without concerns for ever increasing CO2 and global warming, energy limitations, or resource location restrictions.

  8. stas peterson on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 4:34 pm 

    The left wing know nothings will have to find another idea, to try to return the World to a mass of starving peasants and a small coterie of aristocratic marxist “leaders”.

  9. Apneaman on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 5:01 pm 

    stas, more rapidly than what? Nothing. A millionth of a percentage gain in progress is “more rapidly” than nothing. When you have nothing you can only go up. Call me when it actually happens. Getting tired of listening to the 100% certainty claims from techno utopian retards like you, yet again. In the mean time lets all go watch Matt Damon in the Martian. I like that sci fi story better than yours. Good special effects and Matt is just so damn dreamy. Sigh.

  10. ghung on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 5:02 pm 

    Keep snorting that fairy dust, stas. Maybe you’ll find a definition for “certaincy” someday. And if you think energy is the only issue facing humanity, you’ve got another think coming. We’ve had an unprecedented bounty of energy for a couple of centuries and all we do with it is trash the planet, deplete other resources, keep killing each other, and breed like rabbits.

  11. Apneaman on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 5:10 pm 

    stas, is it gonna be too cheap to meter like last time? Will they provide the special plug in for my flying car? I’m just so excited that I want to run out and marry a girl named Jane and have a son named Elroy.

  12. onlooker on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 5:13 pm 

    No Ghung, you see Julian Simon says the ultimate resource is human imagination and intelligence. So no need to worry as long as so many of us are around we have all this incredible resource to exploit. Only Kidding Ghung, your analysis is right on but you see when people like Stas want to believe in fairy tales they can believe almost anything. Oh by the way in a depleted and withered malfunctioning Earth how will the human resource feed itself?

  13. ghung on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 6:04 pm 

    onlooker said; “Julian Simon says the ultimate resource is human imagination and intelligence.”

    Julian’s hubris prevents him from admitting that it’s his sort of hubris, along with “human imagination and intelligence”, un-tempered with humility and wisdom, that got us into this mess; an almost endless list of predicaments. Problems that haven’t been, aren’t being, and won’t be, solved as we kick our own cans into oblivion. Short-term goals beget long-term consequences; some permanent. You can’t un-deplete resources, or un-disappear species, at least not at the rate we’re blowing away both. All other Earthlings can hope for is that we’ll off ourselves before it’s their turn.

    It takes a true sociopath to think the things the Simons of the world spout.

  14. peakyeast on Mon, 15th Feb 2016 6:32 pm 

    10 times the energy req. to run it.

    I wonder if it will still be a net energy drain when you include all the “externalities” and sunk costs.

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