When you think an artificial sun is just stuff of Science Fiction—such as the sun Doctor Octopus tries to harness in Spider Man 2—South Korea actually made it a possible.
Dubbed as KSTAR or Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, this Artificial Sun has a current record of keeping a high-temperature for a exactly 20 seconds. Its ion temperature reaches 100 million degrees.
This accomplishment was spearheaded by the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy in partnership with Seoul National University and Columbia University based in the United States. This new record beats the one conducted last year during KSTAR’s Plasma Campaign. Back in the year 2018, the artificial sun was able to hold an ion temperature of 100 million degrees which lasted for only 1.5 seconds.
Researchers were able to replicate the fusion reactions on the moon through the aid of hydrogen isotopes placed within the KSTAR. This, in turn, produced a plasma state where ions and electrons were separated, but as well as heating ions at powerful temperatures. Additionally, it was able to maintain it too. No other device but the KSTAR was able to withstand a complete 20 seconds.
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According to Director Si-Woo Yoon of KSTAR Research Center, such an achievement will play an important role in securing the technologies for the long high-performance plasma operation. This is actually a key component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future.
As of current, researchers part of the KSTAR project are also working towards a 300 seconds run along an ion temperature which will be higher than 100 million degrees. The goal is to achieve this by 2025.
Meanwhile, Dr. Young-Seok Park of Columbia University comments that it was an honor to have been part of such a turning-point achievement in KSTAR’s current development. It seems like this is something to look forward to in the future, to be able to harness the sun’s energy through advanced technology. What lies ahead for KSTAR once again remains hopeful and bright as this is just another step closer to greater feats.