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Post at: Aug 13 2021

China’s Artificial Sun - EAST

Recent Context

  • On June 3, 2021, China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), which mimics the energy generation process of the sun, set a new record after it ran at 216 million degrees Fahrenheit (120 million degrees Celsius) for 101 seconds.
  • For another 20 seconds, the ‘artificial sun’ also achieved a peak temperature of 288 million degrees Fahrenheit (160 million degrees Celsius), which is over ten times hotter than the sun.

What is China’s ‘Artificial sun’ – EAST?

  • The EAST fusion reactor located at the Hefei Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Science (ASIPP). The reactor has been designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars to provide almost infinite clean energy.
  • The EAST is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility, which is a global science project jointly constructed by China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US.
  • The East is one of three major domestic tokamaks that are presently being operated across the country. Apart from the EAST, China is currently operating the HL-2A reactor as well as J-TEXT.
  • The EAST became operational in 2006.

How does the ‘Artificial sun’ EAST work

  • The EAST Tokamak device is designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process carried out by the sun & stars.

  • For nuclear fusion to occur, tremendous heat and pressure are applied on hydrogen atoms so that they fuse together. The nuclei of deuterium and tritium – both found in hydrogen are made to fuse together to create a helium nucleus, a neutron along with a whole lot of energy.
  • The gaseous hydrogen Fuel is heated to temperatures of over 150 million degress celsius so that it forms a hot plasma ‘soup’ of subatomic particles.
  • The plasma is confined for long durations for fusion to take place.

Significance of EAST

  • It is significant as far as China’s green development is concerned.

Advantage of the EAST

EAST not alone in replicating sun’s reaction

  • China is not only country that has achieved high plasma temperatures.
  • In 2020, South Korea’s KSTAR (Korea superconducting Tokamak Advanced research) fusion device had reached a plasma temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.

Conclusion

  • With the world switching towards green energy the fusion reactor once operational could pave the way for a clean source of an unlimited supply of energy.

@  Yogesh Pratap Singh


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