China develops 'artificial sun' for clean energy; plans to start operation in 2020

HL-2M nuclear fusion device burns with the power of 10 suns

Chinese scientists have developed an artificial sun that will use nuclear fusion to generate clean energy equivalent to that of 10 suns. Xinhua News reported that China completed the construction of this reactor recently and it is expected to start the operation in 2020.

Reports suggest that the artificial sun, which has been named HL-2M, was constructed by China National Nuclear Corporation in collaboration with the Southwestern Institute of Physics. The reactor has been located at Leshan, Sichuan province of China.

China artificial sun
HL-2M Reuters

The artificial sun can touch a temperature which is 13 times hotter than the real Sun, which means approximately 200 million degrees celsius, when fully active. The real Sun is usually 15 million degrees celsius in its core. The reactor uses nuclear fusion, which forces the atoms to merge together and generate energy similar to many nuclear plants. Nuclear fusion takes place on the Sun and the same is being recreated by HL-2M in China.

How does it function?

The structure of the artificial sun in China looks very similar to a doughnut and the chamber is known as 'tokamak'. The HL-2M uses hydrogen and deuterium gas as fuel to trigger the fusion reaction by injecting them into the device and producing plasma.

This project was displayed by China during its participation at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France. The ITER is the world's largest nuclear fusion project that was built with a whopping 20 billion Euros. Apart from China, 34 other countries are also participating in it, which is expected to be completed by 2025.

This article was first published on November 30, 2019