China has achieved a breakthrough in nuclear fusion, a technology that could provide clean and unlimited energy for the future. The country’s experimental fusion reactor, known as the HL-2M Tokamak or the “artificial sun”, created a plasma with a temperature of over 200 million degrees Celsius and maintained it for 101 seconds on April 12.
Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun and other stars. It involves fusing light atoms, such as hydrogen, into heavier ones, such as helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy in the process. However, achieving and sustaining fusion on Earth is extremely challenging, as it requires creating and controlling very high temperatures and pressures.
The HL-2M Tokamak is China’s largest and most advanced fusion device. It uses a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak to confine the plasma with powerful magnetic fields. The device was completed in 2019 and started operating in 2020. It aims to explore the physics and technology of fusion and support the development of ITER, an international fusion project in France.
The latest achievement of the HL-2M Tokamak is a significant step forward for China and the global fusion community. It demonstrates that China has mastered the core technologies of fusion and can produce stable and long-lasting plasmas at very high temperatures. It also shows that China is a leader in fusion research and can contribute to the progress of ITER and other fusion projects.
Nuclear fusion has been hailed as a potential solution to the world’s energy and environmental problems. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits heavy atoms into lighter ones and produces radioactive waste, fusion does not generate any harmful byproducts or greenhouse gases. It also uses abundant and cheap fuel sources, such as seawater and lithium, and does not pose any risk of meltdown or proliferation.
However, nuclear fusion is still far from being commercially viable. Many technical and scientific challenges remain to be overcome before fusion can be scaled up and integrated into the power grid. Experts estimate that it may take decades before fusion can become a reality. Nevertheless, China’s “artificial sun” has shown that fusion is not impossible and that human ingenuity can overcome any obstacle.