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China Will Be Able To Produce Electricity From An Artificial Sun By 2030

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China will be able to produce electricity from an artificial sun within a decade if the project gets approved by the government.

Professor Song Yuntao, director of the Institute of Plasma Physics in Hefei, addressed local media at a carbon control conference in Beijing on Sunday. He said that plans to construct a nuclear fusion reactor are on track, and it would be completed by 2030, if Beijing backs the project.

The government had asked scientists to make preparations for the China Fusion Engineering Testing Reactor (CFETR), including engineering design and building a large testing facility in the city of Hefei. But it is yet to handout an approval to their proposal.

Song says that the CFETR’s main objective is to produce energy through fusion. But the main roadblock is to design a system that can cope with the extremely high temperature of the hydrogen gas, which is expected to reach or exceed 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million Fahrenheit).

In its first stage of operation, it is designed to produce a stable power output – needed to generate electricity – of 200 megawatts, about that of a small coal-fired power plant.

China’s fusion research started with Russian hardware and technology, but it has earned a leading position in the field in recent years, according to Song.

In May, a simulation device in Hefei generated a burning plasma at 150 million degrees Celsius that was maintained at a stable level for over 100 seconds, a world record. Scientists confined the hot gas – which was highly unpredictable and would have destroyed anything it touched – with an extremely strong magnetic field generated by superconductors.

Song said the next goal for the Chinese project would be to increase that burning time to 400 then 1,000 seconds.

“The development of magnetic confinement nuclear fusion is as fast as the development of computer central processing unit chips,” he said.

China’s fusion reactor will probably not be the world’s first, with construction nearly complete on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in southern France, which could fire up by 2025.