The Future in Fusion
In a major scientific breakthrough, an artificial fusion reactor has achieved temperatures that exceeded 100 million degrees Celsius, bringing us closer to making nuclear fusion power plants a reality.
Researchers working on China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor made the stunning announcement last month. The announcement came after a series of successful tests that involved experimentation with the way atoms are heated up within the reactor. For the EAST reactor, artificial nuclear fusion is performed by using plasma manipulated by magnetic fields to fire up the fusion process. While this process is less stable, the overall temperatures achieved using this method is higher compared to those used by other experimental fusion reactors.
This temperature milestone is important because according to researchers, 100 million degrees Celsius is the threshold required for the actual nuclear fusion process to start. By reaching this threshold, artificial nuclear fusion is officially no longer a physicist's pipe dream. While the reactor was only able to maintain this temperature for a short amount of time, it is still a step forward in the goal of achieving commercial nuclear fusion.
Of course, there are still challenges to overcome before widespread use of nuclear fusion becomes a reality. For instance, the fuel for nuclear fusion requires the hydrogen isotope tritium, which cannot be found easily on Earth. Furthermore, while the temperature threshold has been reached, maintaining this threshold for a long period of time is a matter that requires further research. Still, advocates are optimistic that in a few decades, we will be using so-called "artificial suns" as our primary energy source.
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