Korean thermonuclear reactor sets a record – it is 7 times hotter than the Sun

Thermonuclear energy is still far from being used on an industrial scale, but it seems that the time when this will happen is just around the corner. Over the past few years, several important records have been set. One of them was recently supplied by the Korean reactor Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR). It is currently one of the most advanced reactors in the world, despite its compact size. In recent tests, it produced stable fusion temperatures for almost a minute, and also showed the ability to hold extremely hot plasma for more than 100 seconds.

The Korean fusion reactor has set a record - it is 7 times hotter than the Sun. The Korean fusion reactor KSTAR has set a new record. Photo source: www.eurekalert.org. Photo.

The Korean fusion reactor KSTAR has set a new record. Photo source: www.eurekalert.org

Temperature in a fusion reactor

As we have previously described, thermonuclear fusion is a process that occurs in stars. It is thanks to him that the Sun warms our planet. However, in order to recreate thermonuclear fusion under terrestrial conditions, the temperature of the plasma must be much higher than in stars, which is due to the absence of such strong gravity on Earth. For example, the temperature in Tokmok-type fusion reactors, that is, in the shape of a donut, should be seven times higher than the temperature in the core of the Sun, which is 15 million degrees. That is, the plasma should have a temperature of about 100 million degrees.

KSTAR already reached this threshold in 2018, but it was only able to maintain this temperature for 1.5 seconds. Subsequently, this time was extended. For example, already in 2021 the plasma maintained this temperature for about 30 seconds. But at some point the team hit the limit of the reactor’s capabilities, as a result of which certain technical changes were made to it.

Temperature in a fusion reactor. The Tokmak reactor has the shape of a donut. Photo source: www.iflscience.com. Photo.

The Tokmak reactor is shaped like a donut. Photo source: www.iflscience.com

After the Korean Fusion Energy Institute (KFE) engineers upgraded the fusion reactor, the high temperature is maintained for a much longer time.

What is the purpose of the KSTAR fusion reactor

According to the scientists themselves, KSTAR can now withstand temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius for 48 seconds, and can also maintain hot plasma in high-limit mode, or H-mode, for 102 seconds. However, the goal has not yet been achieved. The challenge is to maintain the required temperature for 300 seconds while the plasma burns. The researchers expect to achieve this goal by the end of 2026.

To achieve the desired result, scientists are going to consistently increase the performance of heating and current control devices. In addition, they will work to improve the security of core technologies.

What is the purpose of the KSTAR fusion reactor. The ITER reactor will be launched in 2025. Photo source: Wikipedia. Photo.

The ITER reactor will be launched in 2025 Photo source: Wikipedia

It should be noted that KSTAR, like the Joint European Torus (JET), which recently broke another record, serve as test sites for the development and improvement of nuclear fusion technology. That is, they are pioneer thermonuclear reactors. Subsequently, the experience gained will be used for the construction and operation of more advanced reactors, such as ITER and DEMO. They will already be full-size prototypes of industrial thermonuclear reactors.

ITER should be launched next year. Scientists expect that it will be able to generate 10 times more energy than would be expended to maintain a thermonuclear reaction. And the even more advanced DEMO reactor, which will become its successor, will generate 25 times more energy.

It must be said that the DEMO thermonuclear reactor does not yet exist, but its construction should begin in the near future, since all documentation should be prepared this year.

What is the purpose of the KSTAR fusion reactor. Thermonuclear fusion can revolutionize the field of energy. Photo.

Thermonuclear fusion can revolutionize the field of energy

As Korean scientists say, the current The study gives the green light to develop the core technologies needed for the DEMO fusion reactor. However, they are currently doing everything possible to ensure the safety of the core technologies needed to operate more advanced and powerful reactors.

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Finally, let us remind you that the JT-60SA thermonuclear reactor was opened at the end of last year. It is the largest fusion reactor currently available and is the predecessor of ITER. If all experiments are completed successfully, a real energy revolution will occur, as reactors will produce large amounts of affordable and environmentally friendly energy.