South Koreans Build Artificial Sun That Is Seven Times Hotter Than The Sun

South Koreans have joined the world’s superpowers in creating an artificial sun that beats the sun’s temperature. Scientists at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) successfully built the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) fusion reactor which has attained temperatures seven times hotter than the Sun’s core.

The team achieved great results while testing the reactor between December 2023 and February 2024. The researchers set a new record for their artificial sun project when the reactor reached a temperature seven times that of the Sun’s core. The team successfully maintained temperatures of 212 million degrees Fahrenheit (100 million degrees Celsius) for 48 seconds.

Note that the temperature of the Sun’s core is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). But for this technology to reach 212 million degrees Fahrenheit, it means that it has surpassed the temperature of the Sun’s core by seven times. The artificial sun maintained the high confinement mode (H-mode) for more than 100 seconds.

Note that H-mode is a stable plasma state that is much better confined even more than low confinement mode. KSTAR has succeeded in setting many records in the past. For instance, the researchers successfully set a new record by running super-hot plasma at one million degrees and maintaining it for 30 seconds.

How did the team build an artificial sun seven times hotter than the Sun?

Generally, fusion is a process of mimicking a similar process that generates light and heat from stars. It mostly passes through the process of fusing hydrogen and other light elements to produce excessive powers that could be harnessed for zero-carbon electricity. Scientists usually refer to this energy transition as the Holy Grail.

Korea’s National Research Council of Science & Technology (NST) revealed that building fascinating technology that could maintain high-temperature and high-density plasmas where fusion reactions are produced for longer durations is necessary for the growth of our civilization.

NST noted that tungsten diverters are the major technologies behind the success of these innovations. These tungsten divertors are essential components that exist at the bottom of the vacuum vessel within a magnetic fusion device. They generally help in removing waste gases and impurities from the reactor while withstanding the surface heat loads.

The researchers behind the recent study switched from using carbon in its diverters to using tungsten. In actual sense, Tungsten has the highest melting of every metal known to humankind. In fact, the researchers revealed that their success in maintaining the H-mode for extended periods is due to the use of tungsten

“In comparison with the previous divertors based on carbon, the new tungsten divertors showed only 25% increase in surface temperature under similar heat loads. This provides significant advantages for long-pulse high-heating power operations,” the NST explained.

What’s More?

The recent success with the use of tungsten diverters can be quite useful for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. Keep in mind that ITER is a $21.5bn international fusion megaproject currently undergoing developments in France by several countries including the US, South Korea, the EU, Russia, and China. 

Recharge News has it that ITER will likely achieve its first artificial sun in 2025 and will be commissioned fully by 2035. This implies that tungsten will surely be deployed in its own diverters in the future.

“The research is a green light for getting the core technologies needed for DEMO reactors, which are demonstration power plants in the future,” Suk Jae Yoo, the President of the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy announced.

Hence, from now henceforth, his team will focus on securing core technologies that will be required for the operation of ITER and future DEMO reactors.

Best sunlight for your loved ones.

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