South Korea’s ‘artificial sun’ sets a new world record for high-temperature plasma


Scientists have created a new world record for high-temperature continuous plasma with a Korea superconducting tokamak advanced research (KSTAR) device that reaches ion temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of 20 seconds is.

Known as Korea’s “artificial sun”, KSTB uses magnetic fields to generate and stabilize ultra-hot plasma, with the ultimate aim of making nuclear power fusion power a reality – a form of clean energy Potential unlimited source that powers our life. , If we can make it work as intended.

Prior to this point, 100 million degrees had not been breached for more than 10 million seconds, so this is a substantial improvement over previous efforts – even though we still have a long time before we can fully dig up other sources of energy Way to go. At this point, nuclear fusion power remains a possibility, not a certainty.

KSTAR. (Korea Institute of Fusion Energy)

“The technologies required for the long operation of 100 million-degree plasma are the key to the realization of fusion energy,” says nuclear physicist Si-Woo Yoon, a director at the KSTAR Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE).

“KSTAR’s success in maintaining high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds will be a turning point in the race to acquire technologies for long high-performance plasma operation, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future . “

The key to the jump for 20 seconds was an upgrade to internal transport interruption (ITB) mode inside KSTAR. These methods have not been fully understood by scientists, but at the simplest level they help control the stability of fusion and nuclear fusion reactions.

KSTAR is a tokamak-style reactor, similar to the one recently going online in China, mixing nuclear nuclei to create these enormous amounts of energy (as opposed to nuclear fission used in nuclear plants, which separate nuclear nuclei. Does).

Although the scientific work required to achieve it is complex, progress has been steady. Kestar first breached the 100 million-degree limit in 2018, and managed to maintain the temperature for 8 seconds in 2019. Now, it has more than doubled.

Nuclear physicist Yong-su Na says, “Overcoming some of the drawbacks of the ITB mode in the long run, KSTB’s success in high-temperature operation brings us closer to developing technologies for nuclear power fusion,” Seoul National University (SNU ).

Fusion devices such as KSTAR use hydrogen isotopes to create a plasma state where ions and electrons separate, ready for heating – the same fusion reactions that occur on the Sun, so these reactors are nicknamed .

So far, maintaining high-enough temperatures for a long time for the technology to be viable has proved challenging. To serve as a power source for nuclear fusion, scientists need to break records like this – producing little more than seawater (a source of hydrogen isotopes) and minimal waste.

Despite all the work that goes into producing more energy than these reactors can achieve, progress is encouraging. By 2025, engineers at KSTAR want to cross the 100 million-degree mark for a period of 300 seconds.

“100 million-degree ion temperatures have achieved this by enabling efficient core plasma heating for such a long period of time, demonstrating the unique capability of superconducting KSTAR devices, and giving it a compelling basis for high-performance, steady-state fusion plasmas.” “Atomic says physicist Young-Seok Park from Columbia University.

The findings from the experiment are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed paper, but are being shared at the 2021 IAEA FERAS Natural Conference.

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