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China switches on ‘artificial sun’ for record 17 minutes

The nuclear fusion reactor is five times hotter than the Sun. Source: Yahoo News. 

BEIJING: A nuclear fusion reactor in China has set a new record for sustained high temperatures after running five times hotter than the Sun for more than 17 minutes, state media reported.

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), known as an “artificial sun”, reached temperatures of 70,000,000C during the experiment.

China says its overall goal with the nuclear fusion reactor is to provide near limitless clean energy. The hope is that the reactor can mimic the natural reactions that occur within stars like the Sun.

The idea is one that has been proposed for years. However, creating a working artificial sun has proven to be difficult, despite decades of research. This latest run could help China break through the walls that have been holding back researchers for years.

“The recent operation lays a solid scientific and experimental foundation towards the running of a fusion reactor,” Gong Xianzu, one of the experiment’s leaders and a researcher with the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

The idea behind nuclear fusion reactors isn’t exactly easy. The entire basis of the idea is built on replicating the physics of the actual Sun. . Researchers are then trying to find ways to transfer the energy into electricity.

Since ‘artificial suns’ do not require any fossil fuels to run, and also leave behind no hazardous waste, physicists say there is far less risk to the environment.

China isn’t the only country working on creating an artificial sun, either.. The same team from Chinese reactor will also work with a team in Marseille, France.

Once completed, the artificial sun in Marseille will be the world’s largest reactor. It’s known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The United Kingdom also has plans to build its own nuclear fusion power station.

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