A nuclear fusion device will be built in the country by the end of the year,
which will help scientists try to come to grips with the new source of power
before the rest of the world.
The device will allow Chinese scientists involved in an international project
to build a giant experimental fusion reactor in France to begin work before the
latter is ready, Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua said recently.
Minister Xu Guanhua [file
The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, or EAST, will be the first
of its kind in the world and is quite similar to but much smaller than the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), which is not expected
to be fully operational for a decade.
EAST is based in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui Province.
"Over the next 10 years, while ITER is being built, we can conduct
preliminary research on EAST to facilitate the operation and exploitation of
ITER in the future," Xu told China Daily in an interview.
EAST will be one of the two major Tokamak devices in China the other
traditional one is based in Sichuan Province.
Both facilities will contribute to ITER, the largest multinational scientific
co-operation project China has ever taken part in, said the minister.
Last month, the government reached an agreement with the European Union, the
United States, Russia, Japan, India and South Korea, to build the
multi-billion-dollar reactor to address the world's energy crisis and global
The reactor will emulate the fusion power of the Sun, harnessing the
tremendous amounts of energy that are released when atoms fuse.
Inside the reactor, deuterium and tritium atoms will be forced together at a
temperature of 100 million C, fuse and emit blasts of energy.
It will have fusion power of about 500 megawatts.
Chinese experts are involved in 12 of ITER's programmes including
manufacturing superconductors, creating insulation to contain super-heated
plasma, and providing high-powered pulse supply units.
"Our scientific and industrial prowess in these fields will improve by
participating in these programmes, especially as they are totally new to the
world," said Xu.
"We will also take advantage of the project to foster a number of experts in
nuclear fusion for more self-reliant development."
As an equal member with the other six parties, several managers and
researchers will be deputed to ITER; and the country will have access to all
intellectual property rights of generated technologies.
Fusion power holds the key to solving projected energy shortages, with just 1
kilogram of fusion fuel capable of creating as much power as 10 million
kilograms of fossil fuel.
(China Daily 06/02/2006 page1)