China Unveils a New "Artificial Sun" Capable of Generating Plasma

China Unveils a New "Artificial Sun" Capable of Generating Plasma

China has just announced the launch of a new tokamak fusion reactor. Here are their plans.

Facing increased energy demand and growing environmental concerns, nuclear fusion energy is seen as a promising solution. Intensive research is ongoing, but until now, no operational fusion reactors have existed.

However, China has just announced a major breakthrough with its experimental HL-3 reactor. Following this news, a private company in China aims to commission a new nuclear fusion reactor.

Fusion reactors mimic the process that powers the sun by using atomic nuclei as fuel. They heat this fuel to extremely high temperatures to create plasma and use powerful magnets to contain it. Under high pressure, the nuclei collide and fuse, releasing a large amount of energy. This energy is then captured and used to produce electricity, offering a potentially limitless and clean energy source.

According to Energy Singularity, the HH70 reactor produced its first plasma a few days ago, though the temperature reached has not been disclosed, and there's no further independently verifiable information about the reactor.

The magnetic system of HH70 is based on a REBCO superconductor, comprising rare-earth barium copper oxide, critical for maintaining plasma away from the reactor walls. Given temperatures over 100 million degrees Celsius, any material would melt, thus risking reactor destruction.

The Q factor of HH70 remains unknown. This is crucial in fusion reactors to determine energy input for plasma heating versus energy output from fusion. A factor of 1 means energy input equals energy generated, while a factor of 5 means five times the energy generated. Energy Singularity aims for a factor of 10, as stated in a release. However, the current tokamak record is only 1.53.

Energy Singularity's goal is to build a commercially viable tokamak device. The company claims HH70 is already the first operational fusion reactor. Results from HH70 trials will inform its successor, expected to be completed by 2027. By 2030, Energy Singularity aims to have a fully operational fusion power plant.