South Korean Artificial Sun Sets A New World Record

South Korean Artificial Sun Sets A New World Record

The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, a superconducting fusion device also known as the Korean artificial sun, has set a new world record of 20-second long operation at 100 million degrees. The artificial sun has maintained high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds with an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees (celsius) successfully. 

KSTAR reached plasma ion temperature of 100 million degrees for about 1.5 seconds in 2018. Then they were able to maintain it for 8-second in 2019.

Although there have been other fusion devices that have gone over the temperatures of 100 million degrees or higher, none of them could withstand the activity for over 10 seconds. It is the operational limit of a normal-conducting device. It wasn’t easy to maintain a stable plasma state in the fusion device at such high temperatures for a long time.  

KSTAR improved the performance of ITB (Internal Transport Barrier) mode, one of the next generation plasma operation modes developed last year, and maintained the plasma state for an extended period, overcoming the existing limits of the ultra-high-temperature plasma operation in the 2020 experiment. 

Si-Woo Yoon, Director of the KSTAR Research Center at the KFE explained that the technologies required for long operations of 100 million-plasma are the key to the realization of fusion energy and the success of KSTAR in maintaining such high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds will play an important role 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. 

Dr. Young-Seok Park of Columbia University, who contributed to creating the high-temperature plasma, said: “We are honored to be involved in such an important achievement made in KSTAR. The 100 million-degree ion temperature achieved by enabling efficient core plasma heating for such a long duration demonstrated the superconducting KSTAR device’s unique capability. It will be acknowledged as a compelling basis for high performance, steady-state fusion plasmas.”

The KSTAR will share its key experiment outcomes in 2020, including this success with fusion researchers across the world in the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference, which will be held in May.

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