HEFEI -- Chinese scientists on Thursday successfully conducted their first
test of an experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor, which replicates the
energy generating process of the sun.
The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion reactor,
nicknamed "artificial sun", was tested at the Institute of Plasma Physics under
the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Hefei, capital city of east China's
During the experiment, deuterium and tritium atoms were forced together at a
temperature of 100 million Celsius.
"At that temperature, the super heated plasma, which is neither a gas, a
liquid nor a solid, should begin to give off its own energy," scientists
The first tests lasted nearly three seconds, and generated an electrical
current of 200 kiloamperes, Wan Yuanxi, general manager of EAST, told Xinhua.
The experiments were continuing, he said.
The device is planned to eventually create a plasma lasting 1,000 consecutive
seconds, the longest a fusion reactor has ever run.
Li Jiangang, director of the Institute of Plasma Physics, said the results of
the test met the expectations of scientists and signifed a great breakthrough in
the research of thermonuclear fusion.
"That means we lead all our competitors by at least a decade," said Li. "The
breakthrough will make it possible for mankind to harness a safe, clean and
endless source of energy."
The data of the test will be submitted to the International Atomic Energy
Agency General Conference in Austria.
EAST is an upgrade of China's first-generation Tokamak device and the first
of its kind in operation in the world, said Chinese scientists.
Unlike traditional nuclear fission reactors, which split atoms to create
energy and produce dangerous radioactive waste, EAST uses nuclear fusion to
compress atoms at extremely high temperatures to generate energy that would
produce very little pollution.
Scientists theorize that a fully functional fusion reactor would provide
cheaper, safer, cleaner and endless energy and reduce the world's dependence on