China has successfully installed an “artificial sun” device designed to test nuclear fusion processes, Chinese state media reported on Friday.
The HL-2M Tokamak was installed in Chengdu of the Sichuan province in southwest China and is considered the most advanced tokamak device in China.
“China’s new-generation “artificial sun,” was commissioned in Chengdu, SW China’s Sichuan on Fri after the installation work was completed,” Chinese state-affiliated People’s Daily reported, adding that “This breakthrough has laid a solid foundation for China’s independent design and construction of nuclear fusion reactors.”
Last year, a senior Chinese scientist involved in such projects told Reuters that China was looking to complete and generate power from an experimental reactor working with nuclear fusion by around 2040.
Nuclear fusion has long been considered the answer to zero-emission by-product-free energy generation. However, no one has cracked the nuclear fusion code yet because of the challenges associated with the environment in which the process could take place.
Fusion is the natural process that heats the Sun and all other stars, in which a huge amount of energy is produced by the fusion of light atoms, such as those in hydrogen, into heavier elements like helium.
But replicating fusion energy generation on Earth has been a challenge. That’s because this fusion needs to take place at extremely high temperatures that create hot plasma, and because researchers have struggled to obtain more energy from those plasmas than the energy input to run them.
Two months ago, researchers at MIT and the startup Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) spun out of MIT said they were fairly certain that their nuclear fusion experiment would achieve at some point over the next decade its goal of creating a hot burning plasma to produce for the first time ever fusion energy more than the energy consumed to generate that fusion energy.