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Image credit: National Research Council of Science & Technology

Fusion energy device sets a record by running for 20 seconds

At a blistering 180 million degrees.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 27, 2020
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KSTAR superconducting fusion device, aka the 'artificial sun'
National Research Council of Science & Technology

Most technology creators would consider a seconds-long test a bitter disappointment, but it’s a rousing success in the world of fusion energy. According to Phys.org, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device recently set a world record by maintaining its plasma at a super-hot 180 million degrees Fahrenheit for 20 seconds. That may not sound like much, but no previous fusion machine lasted for more than 10 seconds in those conditions — even KSTAR held out for just eight seconds in 2019.

The key was to improve the Internal Transport Barrier that helps with plasma confinement and stability.

There’s a lot of work left. KSTAR’s ultimate goal is to run non-stop for five minutes at the extreme temperature by 2025. The breakthrough is an important step in that direction, though, and could prove vital if fusion reactors are to become a practical reality. That, in turn, could help the planet by further reducing the dependence on coal and other CO2-heavy energy sources.

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