The Korean artificial sun sets a new world record in a 20-second operation at 100 million degrees

Credit: National Research Council for Science and Technology

The Korean superconducting tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR), a superconducting fusion device also known as the Korean artificial sun, set a new world record because it managed to maintain a high plasma temperature for 20 seconds with an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees.

On November 24 (Tuesday), the KSTAR Research Center at the Korean Fusion Energy Institute (KEF) announced that in a joint study with Seoul National University (SNU) and Columbia University in the United States, it succeeded in continuous plasma operation for 20 seconds with temperature ions higher than 100 million degrees, which is one of the basic conditions of nuclear fusion in the KSTAR 2020 plasma campaign

The achievement is to extend 8 seconds of plasma operation during the 2019 KSTAR Plasma Campaign. In its 2018 experiment, KSTAR reached a plasma ion temperature of 100 million degrees for the first time (retention time: about 1.5 seconds)

In order to recreate the fusion reactions that occur in the sun on Earth, hydrogen isotopes must be placed inside a fusion device like KSTAR to create a plasma state in which ions and electrons are separated and ions must be heated and maintained at high temperatures.

So far, there have been other fusion devices that briefly control plasma at temperatures of 100 million degrees or higher. None of them broke the barrier of holding the operation for 10 seconds or longer. This is the operating limit of a well-performing device and it has been difficult to maintain a stable plasma state in the fusion device at such high temperatures for a long time.

In its 2020 experiment, KSTAR improved the performance of the Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) regime, one of the next-generation plasma modes developed last year, and managed to maintain the plasma state for an extended period of time, overcoming existing ultra-high temperature plasma limits.

Director of Si-Woo Yoon from KSTAR Research Center at KFE explained: “The technologies required for long 100 million plasma operations are key to realizing fusion energy and KSTAR’s success in maintaining high temperature plasma in 20 days a second will be an important milestone in the race to provide high-performance plasma technology, a key component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future. “

“The success of the KSTAR experiment in long-term operation at high temperatures by overcoming some of the shortcomings of the ITB mode brings us one step closer to developing technologies for the realization of nuclear fusion energy,” added Yong-Su Na, a professor at the Department of Nuclear Engineering, SNU. on the operation of KSTAR plasma.

Dr. Columbia University’s Young-Seok Park, who contributed to the creation of high-temperature plasma, said: “We are honored to be involved in such an important achievement achieved in KSTAR. The ion temperature of 100 million degrees is achieved by enabling efficient plasma heating for such a long time. has demonstrated the unique capability of a superconducting KSTAR device and will be recognized as a compelling basis for high-performance, stable state fusion plasmas. “

KSTAR began operating the device last August and plans to continue its plasma production experiment until December 10, conducting a total of 110 plasma experiments involving high-performance plasma and plasma disturbance mitigation experiments, which are joint research experiments with domestic and foreign research. organizations.

In addition to success in working with high-temperature plasma, the KSTAR Research Center conducts experiments on a variety of topics, including ITER research, designed to solve complex problems in fusion research during the rest of the experiment period.

KSTAR will share its key results of the 2020 experiments, including this success with fusion researchers around the world at the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in May.

The ultimate goal of KSTAR is success in continuous operation of 300 seconds with an ion temperature higher than 100 million degrees by 2025.

KFE President Suk Jae Yoo said, “I am so pleased to announce the new launch of KFE as an independent research organization in Korea. KFE will continue its tradition of undertaking challenging research to achieve the goal of humanity: the realization of nuclear fusion energy.” he continued.

As of November 20, 2020, KFE, the former National Fusion Research Institute, an affiliated organization of the Korean Institute of Basic Science, has been re-launched as an independent research organization.

Superconducting tokamaks are high

Provided by the National Research Council for Science and Technology

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