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Current Affairs

HL-2M Tokamak: China to launch artificial sun device to produce unlimited clean energy

Date: 06 March 2019 Tags: Particle Physics

China is planning to complete construction of HL-2M Tokamak device dubbed as "artificial sun" this year to achieve ion temperature of 100 million degrees Cesius. It aims at harnessing nuclear fusion process which occurs naturally in sun and starts to produce unlimited clean energy.

HL-2M Tokamak device

  • It is designed to replicate nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in sun and stars to generate energy
  • Its purpose is to provide almost infinite clean energy through controlled nuclear fusion. So it is often dubbed as "artificial sun".
  • It stands at 11 metres tall, has diameter of 8 metres and weighs about 360 tonnes.
  • Fuel Used: It uses heavy and super-heavy isotopes — atomic variations — of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium.
  • Working: These isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents, that breaks electrons away from their atoms and forms charged plasma of hydrogen ions.
  • Powerful magnets lininginner walls of this device contain plasma to tiny area to maximise chance fusing together these hydrogen ions.
  • When these ions are fused together they produce large amount of energy, which can then be harnessed to run power plant and produce electricity same as seen in traditional nuclear fission reactors.

Comparison with ITER

  • China’s HL-2M Tokamak device will be important to development of next major experiment in global nuclear fusion science: International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).
  • ITER is currently being built in southern France with collaboration from 35 nations including India, US Russia and China.
  • It is set to be first experimental fusion device to produce net energy, producing 10 times more energy than power required to run it.
  • ITER is only an experimental facility and will not harness fusion energy to create electricity.
  • It is expected to be ready to create its first plasma and begin operations in 2025. If successful it could pave the way for future nuclear fusion plants.