Scientists in China are getting closer in their pursuit of constructing an artificial sun using nuclear fusion. If this is made possible, mankind can instantly stop depending on fossil fuels, and there will reportedly be unlimited clean energy forever.
In their experiments, a team of Chinese scientists successfully produced Hydrogen gas, which was three times hotter than the core of sun according to The Express.
The team of scientists was able to hold the temperature of 50 million centigrade (90,000,032 degrees Fahrenheit) for around 102 seconds, or 1.7 minutes.
Previously, Germany was able to reach 80 million centigrade (144,000,032 degrees Fahrenheit), but it lasted for only a fraction of a second. Unlike China, who is using nuclear fusion, Germany used 2 megawatts of microwave radiation to heat hydrogen gas.
The reactor, officially known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), heated hydrogen gas to around 50 million Kelvins (89,999,540.33 degrees Fahrenheit). The temperature attained is equal to a medium scale thermonuclear explosion.
This huge magnitude of temperature is comparable to the inner core of sun, which is estimated to be around 15 million Kelvins (26,999,540.33 degrees Fahrenheit).
The European scientists have achieved higher temperatures than that, but could not sustain it over longer periods due to fears that the whole gas reactor would melt down.
Chinese scientists were able to achieve such high temperatures for such long periods of time by using an ultra-powerful magnetic field that was able to keep the gas suspended inside the doughnut shaped chamber.
The magnetic field is produced by superconducting coils which surround the structure and also drive the electrical current through the plasma.
Chinese scientists have set themselves a goal of reaching the temperature over 100 million centigrade (180,000,032 degrees Fahrenheit) for over 1,000 seconds (roughly 17 minutes).
Apart from nuclear energy, China is also ahead in many aspects of renewable energies, such as solar and wind energies. China is a front-runner in the race of perfect solar energy harvesting.
The technology developed in Hefei could help the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in France to help progress from their stagnancies.
Germany’s €1 billion ($1,068,182,500.00) “stellarator” achieved another huge milestone back in December. It heated plasma to around 1 million degrees Celsius (1,800,032 degrees Fahrenheit) for one-tenth of a second.
It’s surprising to see the whole reactor not melting instantaneously after being heated to such a tremendous temperature. It is because the is plasma contained in a strong magnetic fields which do not touch any of the walls and even so, if some leakage occurs, the walls become slightly radioactive.
The radioactivity is due to the neutrons being fired off the fusion product (deutrium fusion produces 2 neutrons as a byproduct). First they create a vacuum in the chamber, then they turn the magic magnets on, and begin pumping the fuel in, and finally, they turn it up. The result is a flow of plasma that’s heated to 50 million degrees centigrade (90,000,032 degrees Fahrenheit), but due to it being suspended in a vacuum, it can’t convey that heat into the chamber, so the chamber cannot melt despite the tremendous amount of heat.
To harness the energy, the vacuum is tuned so that a known amount of heat will be transferred to the walls of the chamber, through which water, or any other heat transfer fluid is circulated. When this hot, the fluid can then be used to generate steam, which can be used to drive a turbine that produces electricity.
The way of energy generation is very similar to a nuclear reactor in this respect, but much safer since the fuel can be turned off by the flip of a switch.
The paradigm of energy generation has changed over the years, but the basics remains the same. Spin the turbine, attach magnets, and produce energy. The methods of spinning the turbine, however, has seen remarkable change.
Despite this latest achievement, it may still take few decades to master the technology. But if the signs are this encouraging, the energy crisis could be a myth in the near future.
[Photo By Pixabay]