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Korean Artificial Sun runs at 100 million °C for 20s

by Mark Tyson on 28 December 2020, 12:11

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On Christmas Eve, while many people in the UK were readying a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Santa, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) was fired up and maintained a 100 million °C ion temperature for 20 seconds. This might not sound like a lot but it is greater than double the previous record for running a superconducting fusion device.

KSTAR's superconducting fusion device is also known as the 'Korea Artificial Sun' and is a joint research project between the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE), Seoul National University (SNU), and Columbia University of the United States. The previous record, also held by KSTAR was 8 seconds, back in 2019, with only 1.5 seconds being possible back in 2018.

Phys.org explains some of the science behind the experiment, asnd accomplishment. It says that "to re-create fusion reactions that occur in the sun, hydrogen isotopes must be placed inside a fusion device like KSTAR to create a plasma state where ions and electrons are separated, and ions must be heated and maintained at high temperatures."

Key to the greater than doubling of up-time for this fusion device is the improvement of performance of the Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) mode. This latest 20s achievement is described by KSTAR Director Si-Woo Yoon as "an important turning point in the race for securing the technologies for the long high-performance plasma operation". It could be the tech upon which the first commercial nuclear fusion reactor is based.

Upcoming milestone goals for KSTAR are a 300 second (5 minute) run of the 'Korea Artificial Sun' at plasmas temperatures beyond 100 million °C by 2025. I'm not sure what continuous run time is required to commercialise the technology for power generation or if the tech needs to be able to run 24/7 to be practical as a replacement for nuclear fission plants and alternatives.



HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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based on the biyearly “milestones” and assuming they advance at the same rate (which I know can vary) but assuming its approximately the same, does anyone feel like calculating how many centuries it will take to be the equivalent projected life span of the sun?
six_tymes
based on the biyearly “milestones” and assuming they advance at the same rate (which I know can vary) but assuming its approximately the same, does anyone feel like calculating how many centuries it will take to be the equivalent projected life span of the sun?

Some kind of fusion Moore's law? Averaging the increase from 2018-2020 (1.5 to 20s in 2 years, so 3.65x pa), we'd hit a day of continuous operation around 2026 and a full year in 2031. In about 10 years the rate at which the maximum run time increases will equal the rate at which time passes (so if the reactor can be upgraded while running, it could run continuously from that point)

The 3.64x increase is unrealistic, of course - from 2018-2019 they increased the run time by over 5x, while 2019-2020 they only managed 2.5x
I mean, they didn't just beat the previous record, they smashed it.

From Xlucines calculations above, it could be quite reasonable to expect a strong rate of fusion development over the next 10-20 years, it's starting to move out of Sci-Fi and into reality so the rate of investment and public development will vastly increase. We could be seeing a new energy war for the first country to reach fusion self sufficience.

Pretty amazing tbh.
Well if they can sustain operations for 1 hour, then if the system are build right and there are no mechanical issues, then it also be able to run “forever”
To me the interesting question is why the experiment was stopped so “soon” but i assume if they them self stopped it then it would be said.

These and other similar projects are some of the most interesting stuff going on,also some of the most important stuff.
Gentle Viking;4278617
Well if they can sustain operations for 1 hour, then if the system are build right and there are no mechanical issues, then it also be able to run “forever”
To me the interesting question is why the experiment was stopped so “soon” but i assume if they them self stopped it then it would be said.

These and other similar projects are some of the most interesting stuff going on,also some of the most important stuff.

I would assume they got the data they wanted to support/disprove the models for long operation they are examining and rather than keep running and risk issues in unknown territory they powered down to get project and model a longer test.

Baby steps!