science

China commissions new-generation "artificial sun"

File photo taken on Sep. 28, 2019 shows staff members of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Southwestern Institute of Physics working at the installation site of the HL-2M Tokamak, China’s new-generation “artificial sun,” in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. The HL-2M Tokamak went into operation on Friday and achieved its first plasma discharge, according to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). Designed to replicate the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels, the apparatus in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, will provide clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion, said CNNC. (CNNC Southwestern Institute of Physics/Handout via Xinhua)

The HL-2M Tokamak, China’s new-generation “artificial sun,” went into operation on Friday and has achieved its first plasma discharge, according to the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

Designed to replicate the natural reactions that occur in the sun using hydrogen and deuterium gases as fuels, the apparatus in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, will provide clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion, said the CNNC.

The self-developed device is the country’s largest in scale and highest in parameters, with a more advanced structure and control mode than its predecessor, the HL-2A Tokamak.

It is able to generate plasma hotter than 150 million degrees Celsius and is expected to greatly enhance the research and development of key technologies in plasma physics research in China.

“The energy confinement time of international tokamak devices is less than one second. The shot discharge duration of the HL-2M is around 10 seconds, with an energy confinement time of a few hundred milliseconds,” said Yang Qingwei, chief engineer of the HL-2M at the Southwestern Institute of Physics under the CNNC.

The artificial sun will provide key technical support for China’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project and frontier research fields including flow instability and magnetic phenomena of ultra-high temperature plasma, according to Yang.

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