Have you ever wondered at the idea of mankind creating their ‘own’ sun? Well, I guess not, it’s pretty absurd, huh? Nevertheless, there are people who did come up with such an idea.
In the recent years, the Chinese scientists have been working on a project involving fusion reaction technology. A kind of technology that is being used to advance HL-2M Tokamak reactor.
The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source. The HL-2M was constructed by China National Nuclear Corporation in collaboration with the Southwestern Institute of Physics.
HL-2M reactor which is located in the south western Sichuan Province is notably referred to as an “artificial sun” due to its enormous production of heat.
The reactor uses a very powerful magnetic field to fuse plasma and when activated can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius, which is approximately ten times hotter than the core of the natural sun, which reaches at only 15 million degrees Celsius.
The project is set to benefit the rising needs of sustainable clean energy in China, according to Chinese news agencies.
“The development of nuclear fusion energy is not only a way to solve China’s strategic energy needs, but also has great significance for the future sustainable development of China’s energy and national economy,” stated the People’s Daily.
The development of the HL-2M is part of a collaboration plan with scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – the world’s largest nuclear fusion research project based in France, which is expected to be completed by 2025.
Chemical fusion is what is known to power our sun, which powers our solar system.
The fusion process forces atomic nuclei to merge together to create massive amounts of energy, this is however different from nuclear fission process which is used in atomic weapons and power plants, where atomic nuclei are split into fragments to produce energy. Nuclear fusion is the same process that takes place within the core of our natural sun, causing it to produce heat.
The structure of the Chinese artificial sun takes the shape of a doughnut, with a chamber called a “Tokamak”. This reactor then uses hydrogen and deuterium gas as fuel to activate the fusion reaction process similar to the sun.
Most nuclear-capable governments have been switching to nuclear fusion technology which has proved to be efficient and emits no greenhouse gases or wastes, making it more environmental-friendly compared to nuclear fission.
Although nuclear fusion is cleaner and safer, it is considered prohibitively expensive to work with. In spite of that, world governments are working on ways to bring those costs down.