China to produce clean energy with nuclear fusion by 2028, top weapons expert claims
China aspires to produce unlimited clean energy through nuclear fusion by 2028.
The "world's largest" pulsed-power plant will be built in Chengdu, Sichuan province, according to Professor Peng Xianjue of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics, The Independent reported on Wednesday.
"Fusion ignition is the jewel in the crown of science and technology in today's world," said Professor Peng.
"Being the world's first to achieve energy-scale fusion release will lay the most important milestone in the road to fusion energy for human beings."
The professor, China's leading nuclear weapons scientist, announced this during an online meeting organized by a Beijing-based think tank, Techxcope, last week, reported Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Peng, 81, has served as a key adviser to China's nuclear weapons program and created some of the country's most sophisticated small nuclear warheads.
Nuclear fusion may be feasible in the future
The finest outcome so far achieved by Chinese scientists utilizing an “artificial sun” is a reaction running at a slightly cooler 70 million degrees celsius for more than 17 minutes.
The Z-pinch machine, which imitates a thermonuclear bomb's fusion process through enormous electric pulses, will be used in the Chinese power plant.
Due to distortions that occur within the plasma that cause it to collapse, they are primarily utilized to create atomic weapons and were only recently thought to be a potential path to nuclear fusion energy.
A full-scale nuclear fusion plant using this technique may be feasible in the future, according to new methods for stabilizing the plasma, such as the sheared axial flow process.
However, according to Professor Peng, the new plant's fusion process will first be employed to introduce particles into uranium, which will then fuel a fission reactor.
Last week, a nuclear fusion reactor developed by researchers at the Seoul National University (SNU) in South Korea reached temperatures in excess of 100 million degrees Celsius for 30 seconds, taking a step closer to nuclear fusion energy.
Nuclear fusion energy and its challenges
Nuclear fusion is the "holy grail" of energy sources because it mimics the Sun's natural processes, resulting in massive amounts of energy produced when hydrogen atoms collide to form helium atoms.
It is a process that powers the Sun and other stars. And its energy is a preferred alternative renewable energy source because there is no greenhouse gas emission.
Beginning as an investigation into how stars propelled themselves, research into nuclear fusion energy was first conducted in the middle of the 20th century. But, the initial emphasis was on harnessing the power for weapons and rockets, and energy harnessing was just recently added.
However, the challenges of using such strong energy are numerous. The intense and particular circumstances that must exist for nuclear fusion to occur are challenging to mimic on Earth.
The fuel must be heated in conditions similar to the Sun: extremely high temperatures, tremendous pressures, and prolonged heating. There are also worries that the reaction chambers will deteriorate over time due to the neutrons released during the reaction.
Additionally, the size and cost of current reactor chambers make it impractical to produce electricity for everyday customers.
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