South Korea’s artificial Sun burns at 100 million degrees for 20 seconds, sets new world record

This was the first time a fusion device sustained plasma for more than 10 seconds. More than 250 such tokamak devices have been built so far, but none have been able to achieve this feat thus far.

December 29, 2020 / 03:59 PM IST
KSTAR fusion device (Wikipedia)

KSTAR fusion device (Wikipedia)

South Korean scientists set a new world record for high-temperature sustained plasma using a superconducting fusion device on November 24.

The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device, commonly referred to as South Korea’s artificial sun, burnt for 20 seconds straight at an ion temperature of more than 100 million degrees Celsius.

As against this, the core of the Sun burns at only 15 million degrees Celsius.

Notably, fusion devices such as the KSTAR, are used to understand fusion reactions that occur inside the Sun.

This was the first time a fusion device sustained plasma for more than 10 seconds. More than 250 such tokamak devices have been built so far, but none have been able to achieve this feat thus far.

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Earlier, during the 2019 KSTAR Plasma Campaign, scientists were able to maintain plasma for only eight seconds. In 2018, physicists were able to maintain plasma at 100 degrees Celsius for the first using the KSTAR device. However, it had lasted only 1.5 seconds.

Physics Org quoted KSTAR Research Center Director Si-Woo Yoon as saying: “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.”

The goal of the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) is to sustain fusion ignition for 300 seconds with ion temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius by the year 2025.
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