Nuclear fusion that works by combining two atomic nuclei into a larger nucleus to release energy promises to unleash more energy than it consumes. A working fusion reactor can help scientists unleash the power of Sun on Earth, thereby solving the planet’s energy needs.
Although KSTAR is not a working reactor, on November 24 this year it reached an ion temperature of 100 million C while maintaining a continuous stream of plasma for 20 seconds.
The Sun’s core, for comparison, reaches about 15 million C
The achievement was accomplished by the scientists at the Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE), in partnership with National University (SNU) and Columbia University of the US.
Director Si-Woo Yoon of the KSTAR Research Center at the KFE told phys.org: “The technologies required for long operations of 100 million-plasma are the key to the realisation of fusion energy, and the KSTAR’s success in maintaining the high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds will be an important turning point in the race for securing the technologies for the long high-performance plasma operation, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future.”
Yong-Su Na, professor at the department of Nuclear Engineering who has been jointly conducting the research, added: “The success of the KSTAR experiment in the long, high-temperature operation by overcoming some drawbacks of the ITB modes brings us a step closer to the development of technologies for realisation of nuclear fusion energy.”
With the latest achievement, KSTAR has beaten last year’s eight-second plasma operation time.
A year before, it achieved the plasma temperature of 100 million C. However, it could retain it for only about 1.5 seconds.
In December 2016, KSTAR set another world record when it ran for 70 seconds at temperatures of about 50 million C.