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China's fusion energy dreams one step closer

By Barry He | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-04-05 00:34
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The photo shows the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) in Hefei, East China's Anhui province, which is dubbed as "artificial sun", Aug 16, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Earlier this year, a 14-year-old boy in Memphis, Tennessee made global headlines when he became the youngest person in the world to build a working nuclear reactor–in his bedroom.

Jackson Oswalt started building the steel device, made of vacuums, chambers and pumps and small enough to rest on his desk, when he was just 13. It is capable of smashing atoms together to release bursts of energy, and when questioned, his father admitted that his understanding of what his son was doing amounted to "little to nothing".

While incapable of making commercially viable amounts of energy, Jackson's creation highlights the direction in which the issue of global energy production needs to progress.

The race is on to develop a nuclear fusion reactor which creates more energy than it uses up, the holy grail of energy technology.

Harnessing the power that fuels entire stars such as our own sun is attractive, especially considering the fact that zero carbon emissions are involved. Just a few grams of hydrogen isotopes are required to initiate the process. This is earth's most common component, and can be collected easily in just sea water.

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