China Just Brought Us One Step Closer to Clean Energy With Huge Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough

Thursday, 11 February 2016 - 6:51PM
Technology
Science News
Thursday, 11 February 2016 - 6:51PM
China Just Brought Us One Step Closer to Clean Energy With Huge Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough
One of the biggest problems facing mankind today is the need for clean energy. All of the issues with fossil fuels and other sources of modern energy are too myriad to mention in one place, but suffice it to say that there are many scientists who place finding clean, renewable sources of energy at the top of the list for things man must achieve in order to keep the planet and the species alive. Now China has brought mankind one step closer to that goal with a huge breakthrough in nuclear fusion.

 Nuclear fusion, for those unfamiliar with the term, is what takes place at the hearts of stars. Hydrogen, under immense pressure, is fused into helium at temperatures of millions of degrees. This process gives off extreme amounts of energy - energy which the earth needs for life to exist. Scientists have long hoped to replicate this process, as it would undoubtedly produce tons of energy without any of the negative consequences to the planet that Earth now has to deal with due to the regular use of unclean, nonrenewable sources of energy.

  Chinese physicists have said in a press release that they were able to heat hydrogen plasma to 49.999 million degrees Celsius for 102 seconds in the nuclear fusion reactor called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (or EAST). This is a feat that has never been accomplished before and is a big step forward in the goal to use nuclear fusion as a source of renewable energy.

  German scientists made a similar breakthrough recently, though it was nowhere near as pronounced. They were able to heat hydrogen plasma to 80 million degrees Celsius, but for no more than a quarter of a second. They say that they believe they're able to keep at that temperature for up to 30 minutes, but that has yet to be seen.

China's goal is to get the plasma up to 100 million degrees (which is believed to be the ideal temperature for nuclear fusion) and to hold it there for 1,000 seconds. That may seem like a big feat to accomplish, but after they're recent breakthrough, it seems a great deal more feasible than it was originally believed to be.

 
Even though this was quite the breakthrough, it will still take many future developments and quite a bit of time before clean energy via nuclear fusion is ever achieved. They'd still need to learn how to harness the plasma and the emitted energy properly before that could ever happen, and as was mentioned, they're still in the stages of getting the plasma burning at the right temperature and for the right duration. Still, this is a big step forward, and hopefully these endeavors in nuclear fusion go on to bear the fruit everyone's been hoping for.
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