The artificial sun created by Korean scientists, called KSTAR, is named so because it attempts to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs in the real sun to produce energy.

Recently, KSTAR scientists have been able to maintain a type of extremely hot “fire”, called plasma, at the astonishing temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 48 seconds, beating the previous record set in 2018.

This achievement is significant because to generate energy from nuclear fusion, it’s necessary to maintain the plasma at high temperatures and densities for a long time, and therefore the longer these conditions are maintained, the more energy can be generated.

The team of scientists at KSTAR has improved their equipment, especially devices called diverters, which help to keep the plasma under control.

Photo of KSTAR (Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research)
Photo of KSTAR (Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research). Credit: Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE)

Replacing the old diverters with new ones made of tungsten, a material that can better withstand extreme heat, has allowed the team to reach higher temperatures and maintain plasma temperature for longer periods.

KSTAR’s ultimate goal is to sustain plasma for 300 seconds at temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees, which would be a significant step toward generating energy through nuclear fusion, which is safer and cleaner than current forms of energy.

Dr. Si-Woo Yoon, Director of the KSTAR Research Center, noted that despite being the first experiment conducted in the environment of the new tungsten diverters, meticulous hardware testing and campaign preparation have enabled us to achieve results that surpass previous KSTAR records in a short period of time. Additionally, he added that to achieve KSTAR’s ultimate operation goal, we plan to sequentially improve the performance of heating and current drive devices and also secure the necessary basic technologies for high-performance, long-pulse plasma operations.

KSTAR scientists are also collaborating with other countries, such as the United States, to improve their technology, make their process more stable and efficient, and contribute to the construction of future fusion energy reactors.


Sources

Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE)


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