It's always sunny in... China?
The name HL-2M certainly doesn’t conjure up thoughts of basking in the sunshine on a tropical beach, and after learning more about China’s artificial sun you’ll probably want to put away your towel and unpack the cooler. HL-2M is a nuclear fusion research device and plasma generating machine that is reported to be able to produce temperatures 13x as hot as our Sun. The artificial sun was built by the China National Nuclear Corporation and the Southwestern Institute of Physics as a part of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), an ambitious energy project involving 35 nations. ITER is the world’s largest nuclear fusion project and the advancement of China’s HL-2M is helping to make major strides towards their goal of harnessing the power of nuclear fusion for energy. So what exactly is nuclear fusion? It’s how our sun produces both energy and heat. Nuclear fusion occurs when two hydrogen nuclei (hello high school science class) combine to produce a ridiculous amount of heat which can then be transformed into energy. Ok, but why does it matter? Projects such as this and advancements like HL-2M aim to find a way to harness the power of nuclear fusion which could fuel (pun very much intended) a near-limitless source of clean energy. What’s next for China’s Sun?
Experimental reactor by 2021
Industrial prototype by 2035
Large scale commercial use by 2050
*casually putting on sunglasses*
Getting to the core:
Image by David Monje