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The Korean artificial sun sets the new world operating record of 20 seconds at 100 million degrees, twice as long as South Korean researchers set last year

A team of South Korean physicists have established a new world record with his « artificial sun« by turning it on and keeping it stable for 20 seconds. It is a device for nuclear fusion known as KSTAR (Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research).

From hydrogen, the scientists obtained a plasma (the fourth state of matter) composed of hot ions that exceeded the 100 million degrees temperature centigrade.

For comparison, the core of the Sun reaches about 15 million degrees Celsius in temperature.

The event occurred on November 24, when the Research Center KSTAR of the Korean Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) announced that a joint investigation with Seoul National University (SNU) and Columbia University of the United States achieved the milestone.

The research effort has been called the Plasma Campaign KSTAR 2020 and has surpassed last year’s eight-second plasma operation.

In 2018, KSTAR reached a plasma temperature of 100 million degrees for the first time, but only held it for about 1.5 seconds.

Tokamak devices like KSTAR recreate the fiery fusion reactions that occur in the Sun, but here on Earth.

According to the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), there are about 250 tokamak devices around the world.

Tokamak is an acronym for the Russian term « toroïdalnaïa kameras magnitnymi katushkami » or « toroidal chamber with magnetic coils ».

The device KSTAR uses hydrogen isotopes to create a scorching stream of plasma, one of the four fundamental states of matter, where individual ions and electrons are separated.

To retain the ions, it is necessary to maintain incredibly high temperatures.

Until now, there have been other fusion devices that have briefly handled plasma at temperatures of 100 million degrees or more. But none have broken the barrier of holding the trade for 10 seconds or more. It is the operating limit of the normal conduction device and it was difficult to maintain a stable plasma state in the fusion device at such high temperatures for a long time.

Director Si-Woo Yoon of the KSTAR Research Center at KFE explained, « The technologies required for long operations of 100 million plasma are the key to the realization of fusion energy, and KSTAR’s success in maintaining the plasma of high temperature for 20 seconds will be a major turning point in the race to secure technologies for the long-term operation of high-performance plasma, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future. »

The ultimate goal of KSTAR is to achieve turn on the machine and make it run continuously for 300 seconds with ion temperature higher than 100 million degrees by 2025.”

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