China's Anhei Tokamak Leads The Way to Fusion Energy

New efforts by China help push the ITER project along.

China is leading the world in the development for clean limitless energy.

Beijing’s plans to have a fully functioning fusion reactor up and running by 2050 is on track thanks to the extraordinary work being done at the Anhei tokamak in the Anhui province. 

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The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) is gaining a reputation for breaking records. Back in 2017, it became the first facility in the world to sustain certain conditions necessary for nuclear fusion for longer than 100 seconds.

China makes a big contribution to global project

Last November it broke another record when it earned a personal best temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million Fahrenheit)—six times as hot as the sun's core. These unbelievable temperatures are what is needed to get closer to achieving fusion reactions.

"We are hoping to expand international cooperation through this device (EAST) and make Chinese contributions to mankind's future use of nuclear fusion," said Song Yuntao, a top official involved in the project, told Phys.org.

China is also building a separate fusion reactor with plans to generate commercially viable fusion power by mid-century, Yuntao commented.

EAST is a key part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, an international collaboration that aims to prove the feasibility of fusion power.

Ambitious plans need worldwide cooperation

The project is funded by the European Union, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. The center of the project is a multi-billion-dollar giant cylindrical fusion device, called a tokamak.

This huge facility is under construction in France and will use technology developed by ITAR partners. Fusion power is the same process that powers our sun. It occurs when atomic nuclei merge to create massive amounts of energy.

Difficult and expensive

This is the exact opposite of an atomic weapon which aims to split them into fragments. There are no greenhouse gases generate for emitted during the fusion process and unlike fission, the risk of an accident is very low.

Achieving fusion is incredibly expensive and incredibly difficult.

The total cost of the ITER project is set at around $22.5 billion (20 billion euros) China knows that they are still lagging behind other more developed nuclear countries such as the US and Japan but are dedicated to achieving results that have the ability to assist in the wider fusion project.

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In 2017 ITER's Director-General Bernard Bigot lauded China's government as "highly motivated" on fusion.

"Fusion is not something that one country can accomplish alone," Wu Songtao, a top Chinese engineer with ITER, said.

"As with ITER, people all over the world need to work together on this."

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