China's "artificial sun" reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heat output of 10 megawatts, according to scientists at the Plasma Physics Institute of China Academy of Sciences, where the experiment was conducted. It's six times warmer than the center of the Sun. The device, an experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST), was built to utilize the energy of nuclear fusion, the same process that is being forced.
Most living things depend on nuclear fusion. If the sun stopped working, it would be the same for us. But fusion can also offer a clean energy solution in the future.
For the emergence of the fusion reaction, two atomic nuclei merge at extremely high pressures and temperatures above 270 million ºF. Once merged, they release a massive energy that can be captured and potentially used to supply cities. Unlike combustion of fossil fuels, there are no carbon emissions. And unlike nuclear fission, it's relatively safe.
"The news from the EAST is very exciting," said Villiam Dorland, a physicist who is researching nuclear fusion reactors at the University of Maryland, for Digital Trends. The result is not unprecedented – world record temperatures are up to five times hotter – but Dorland, who was not involved in the survey, said the result was exciting, especially due to the design of the device. It was built for "magnetic closure fusion".
"The challenge for the magnetic closure fusion is to produce high temperatures in fuel, and also maintain high density and excellent thermal insulation," said Dorland. "Achieving these three performance goals is at the same time seriously difficult."
Nuclear fusion is difficult to start and more difficult to maintain. It is difficult to build a reactor that can contain the enormous pressure and temperature required by the reaction. But Fusion and Launch Laboratories around the world have begun to convert, reports the BBC, and see the future on fusion on the horizon.
"This is the SpaceKs moment for fusion," said Christopher Movri, executive director of Canadian General Fusion, for BBC. "This is the moment when mature science fusion is combined with the emergence of 21st century technologies such as additive production and high temperature superconductors. Fusion is no more than 30 years old. ""
There are still many milestones in the future. Creating a reactor that can limit fluid and scale the device to a commercially viable size are among the biggest obstacles.