The first superconducting "artificial sun" opens up globally

The first superconducting "artificial sun" opens up globally

The China-France nuclear fusion cooperation week was officially opened this week at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Hefei, Anhui Province. The world’s first fully superconducting “artificial sun” experimental device EAST, independently designed and built by Chinese scientists, is fully open to the world and shared.

In the development of nuclear fusion energy, which has been vividly called “artificial sun,” China has grown from a “chaser” and “runner” to a “leader” with strong international export capabilities. Scientists have struggled “on a daily basis” for decades, and it is the first lamp that expects nuclear fusion to light up in China.

Start "on a daily basis"

Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil will eventually be depleted and the future of humanity will be focused on finding more sustainable clean energy. The large amounts of isotopes in the seawater, helium and helium, can be released into a helium atom. The enormous energy that can be released is similar to the solar light and heat.

If humans have mastered nuclear fusion energy, they will have clean energy that can be used for a billion years. Therefore, the controlled thermonuclear fusion experimental device is called "artificial sun" and it is the hope of the Earth to find a way out of energy.

"The first semi-superconducting nuclear fusion facility owned by China was introduced in the 1990s after it was introduced from abroad." Li Jiangang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, recalls the start of the "day by day" journey and his heart is still full of emotion.

In its initial stage, China can only look at the leader's footsteps, and follow and imitate difficult advances. In order to study this device, Chinese scientists removed all of its components, studied the structure and technology, and reconstructed it.

"China must have its own nuclear fusion experimental device built on its own! It is not for scientists to write several reports, but to really solve the energy problem that we have for one hundred years or two hundred years later." Chinese scientists have made such calls. A team of scientists who had to play for the destiny of the nation and humanity stood up. The team of more than 200 people at that time was under 40 years of age on average.

Recovering "and running"

"When China announced that it would build a superconducting nuclear fusion facility with $20 million, no one in the international academic community believes it," said Li Jiangang.

In 1998, the Plasma Institute established a team that aims to build the world’s first superconducting non-circular cross-section nuclear fusion facility, EAST. Its Chinese name, “Eastern Chaohuan,” places great expectations in the Chinese scientific community.

The institute established 12 research centers and two technical support centers to overcome one difficulty. Insulators are the core components. This kind of ball-point pen-sized parts requires hundreds of them, and foreign companies offer thousands of dollars. The scientists bite their teeth: "It's too expensive to believe that we cannot do this ourselves!"

As a result, Pan Xiaojiang led a team that lasted for three years and finally successfully developed insulators.

However, the development of conductors, water cooling systems, and precision machining...have gone through difficulties. Failures have come one after another.

When some scientists solve technical difficulties abroad, in order to save money, they would rather spend more than 40 minutes a day in the ice and snow. Nearly old old scientists fainted in the heat of the laboratory, and the first sentence to wake up was to ask how the work is...

In September 2006, EAST, which was independently designed and built by China, was completed and the first successful discharge was completed, and a high-temperature plasma discharge with a current of 200 kA and a time of approximately 3 seconds was obtained. Compared with similar experimental devices of the same type in the world, it won four world “firsts” at that time, namely, the use of the least funds, the fastest construction speed, the earliest put into operation, and the fastest plasma discharge after operation.

It was only at this time that the ITER project initiated by the United States, France, and other countries to establish the world's first controlled thermonuclear experimental reactor was launched as part of the seven-party cooperation.

"Now thousands of foreign scientists each year come to us for international cooperation. And 10 years ago, we went abroad to learn from others," said Song Yuntao, deputy director of the Plasma Institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Leading the world longs to use nuclear fusion to light the first lamp

The design and construction of nuclear fusion reactors is a very complicated and arduous project. Song Yuntao said that the completion of EAST will allow China to lead the world in superconducting technology, but it will contribute to China's ITER project and lay the foundation for China’s future construction of its own nuclear fusion commercial experimental reactor. “The key technologies and components must be 100%. Localization!"

He said that Chinese scientists have started to solve many world-class problems. For example, the plasma center temperature of future nuclear fusion reactors must reach 100 million degrees, which requires high-power auxiliary heating equipment. It is equivalent to the world's largest microwave oven and its power is tens of thousands of times that of ordinary household microwave ovens. This Chinese scientist made his own in 2015.

“It took us nearly a decade to constantly improve EAST. Now almost every part of this device is our own.” Li Jiangang said, “In January 2016, EAST successfully achieved an electronic temperature of more than 50 million watts for a period of time. Ultra-high temperature long pulse plasma discharge up to 102 seconds, which is the longest continuous plasma discharge when the electron temperature reaches 50 million degrees in the international Tokamak experimental device. The temperature is nearly three times higher."

Song Yuntao said that the Institute of Plasma also assumed the 9% procurement package task for ITER. As of now, Chinese scientists have overcome all the technical difficulties encountered in the procurement package task.

The components of the procurement package for the delivery of the ITER plan in China have achieved 100% localization, and all of them are 100% one-time qualified and delivered on schedule. The ITER organization's two-term Director-General's assessment of China is "China leads the parties in the R&D and production of procurement packages."

“I have done nearly 200,000 experiments of 'artificial sun' in my life, and there have been nearly 40,000 failures. This is a very long process. Although the one-hundred second discharge is away from one thousand seconds, ten thousand seconds, Unlimited commercial use is still very far, but we will always go down.” Academician Li Jiangang, 55, said, “My dream is that in my lifetime, there is a light bulb that can be lightened by nuclear fusion. This light bulb must be in China! ”

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