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South Korean Artificial Sun - Reaches100 Million Degrees Celcius For More Than 20 Seconds

South Korean scientists have successfully maintained a nuclear fusion process for 30 seconds at temperatures of over 100 million degrees Celsius, or about seven times hotter than the center of the Sun.

South korean artificial sun is a big step toward making fusion power work in the real world. Fusion power can copy the natural processes that happen inside the Sun to create a nearly endless supply of clean energy.

The hope is that this new approach may generate the same amount of power as conventional ones without creating any harmful byproducts like nuclear waste or greenhouse emissions. Yoo Suk-jae, head of the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy said:

We usually say that fusion energy is a dream energy source – it is almost limitless, with low emission of greenhouse gases and no high-level radioactive waste – [but the latest breakthrough] means fusion is not a dream.

Scientists anticipate that the machine will be able to maintain 100 million degrees for 50 seconds by the end of the year. Moreover, scientists want to achieve the same temperatures, but for 300 seconds, by 2026. Yoon Si-woo, director of Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research Center (KSTAR), said:

This is not the end of the story, we must move on to 300 seconds – 300 is the minimum time frame to demonstrate steady-state operations, then this plasma can work forever.

Plasma Experiments

The reactor at KSTAR was tested by researchers from Seoul National University and the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy. The team was able to improve the technology used to keep the plasma in the center of the reactor.

The findings were released to the public in the September 7 issue of Nature. According to the article, the scientists were exposed to temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius for a total of 20 seconds.

KSTAR has run 110 plasma experiments, including high-performance plasma operation and plasma disruption mitigation studies, in collaboration with domestic and international research institutions since it started running the device last August.

Throughout the duration of the experiment, the KSTAR Research Center continues to conduct experiments on a wide range of issues, including ITER investigations, with the goal of solving hard challenges in fusion research.

In May 2020, during the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference, the KSTAR will report on the major results of its experiments, including this accomplishment, to scientists from across the globe studying fusion energy.

The KSTAR hopes to reach its ultimate goal by 2025, which is to keep working for 300 seconds with ions that are hotter than 100 million degrees.

Techniques For Plasma Containment

Researchers are still looking for the most suitable techniques for keeping the plasma within the nuclear fusion reactor. One of these ways is to use the magnetic fields to make an edge transport barrier (ETB) that stops pressure suddenly near the reactor wall and traps heat and plasma inside.

Alternatively, the internal transport barrier (ITB) may be created by increasing the pressure within the plasma . Yong-Su Na and his SNU colleagues changed the ITB method to make the plasma less dense.

Based on their experiments at the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, it seems that the core temperature of the plasma has gone up.

As high temperatures are needed to extract energy from nuclear fusion, this is an essential component of the process. Instability may be brought on by either the ETB or the ITB. In any case, the KSTAR method showed stability, and it was only stopped because of hardware limitations.

More energetic ions in the core of the plasma, known as fast-ion-regulated enhancement (FIRE), are likely to have played a significant role in keeping the plasma stable at such high temperatures. Yet, the researchers have yet to pin down the precise processes at play.

Final Words

The experts agree that subsequent tests with South korean artificial sun at greater duration may help the fusion reactor development cause. The area of nuclear fusion is progressing thanks to these kinds of findings. Problems, however, are gradually moving away from physics.

The biggest obstacle is figuring out whether a fusion reactor might be used to produce power at a reasonable cost. It's necessary for the technology to grow in size.

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