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China sets to build fusion energy research facility

Date: 2021-12-21
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HEFEI, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- China is building a research facility to incubate core technologies used in power generation of fusion energy that powers the sun.

The facility in the pipeline, called 'Comprehensive Research Facility for Fusion Technology' (CRAFT), is a platform on which engineers develop and test fusion energy reactor's key components.

It is expected to be finished around 2024, according to the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP).

China has already completed the engineering design of a fusion energy testing reactor, according to ASIPP.

Building a fusion energy reactor is China's new scientific ambition as the country's experimental advanced superconducting tokamak (EAST) is upgrading its experiment.

The EAST, based on an approach called 'magnetic confinement fusion' that uses magnetic fields to confine fusion fuel in the form of a plasma, started a new round of experiments in early December, which will last about six months.

Qian Jinping, an ASIPP researcher who manages EAST experiments, said at the control hall that the EAST discharged electricity more than 100 times per day to improve its performance.

Song Yuntao, ASIPP director, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that he and his teammates are looking forward to sustaining the high-temperature plasma for longer durations.

The 400-tonne, doughnut-shaped machine, known as the 'Chinese artificial sun,' set a world record of achieving a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds in an experiment on May 28.

The breakthrough is a landmark for utilizing nuclear fusion like the sun to provide a steady stream of clean energy.

Fusion energy is considered a solution to Earth's energy problems. It is estimated that the deuterium in one liter of seawater can produce, through fusion reaction, the amount of energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline.

 


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