The 'artificial sun' reaches a new record in the field of nuclear fusion. The exceptional achievement of South Korean researchers

A team of South Korean researchers has announced a new world record for the time they sustained a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius – seven times hotter than the core of the sun – during a nuclear fusion experiment. This progress is considered an important step in the development of future energy technologies.

South Korea's “tokamak” reactor PHOTO Twitter

Nuclear fusion attempts to replicate the energy-generating reaction in stars, including the sun, by fusing two atoms together, releasing massive amounts of energy, according to CNN.

It is recognized as one of the key solutions in the fight against climate change, offering the possibility of providing unlimited energy without the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. However, controlling this process on Earth is extremely difficult.

The main way to get energy from fusion involves using a doughnut-shaped reactor, called a tokamak, where hydrogen variants are heated to extremely high temperatures to form a plasma.

100 million degrees Celsius, 40 seconds

The team behind the 'Artificial Sun', called KSTAR, managed to keep the plasma at a temperature of 100 million degrees for 48 seconds, beating the previous record of 30 seconds set in 2021.

This achievement was made possible by modifying the process, including using tungsten instead of carbon in the “deviators”, which extract the heat and impurities generated by the fusion reaction.

The ultimate goal of the KSTAR project is to achieve a duration of 300 seconds, where the plasma temperature is maintained at 100 million degrees, by 2026, a critical point for expanding fusion operations.

The achievement by the South Korean researchers would contribute to the development of France's International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion.

High-temperature, high-density plasmas, where reactions can take place for long periods of time, are vital to the future of nuclear fusion reactors, said Si-Woo Yoon, director of the KSTAR Research Center at the Korea Fusion Energy Institute (KFE).

Maintaining these high temperatures “it was not easy to do because of the unstable nature of the plasma”he told CNN, which is why this recent record is so significant.

KSTAR work “will be of great help to ensure the intended performance of ITER operation over time and to advance the commercialization of fusion energy”Si-Woo Yoon also said.

Recent discoveries in the field of nuclear fusion

This announcement adds to a number of other nuclear fusion discoveries.

In 2022, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility in the United States made history by successfully completing a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than was used to power the experiment.

In February, scientists near the English city of Oxford announced that they had set a record for producing more energy than ever in a fusion reaction. They produced 69 megajoules of fusion energy for five seconds, roughly enough to power 12,000 homes for the same amount of time.

But the commercialization of nuclear fusion still remains a long way off, as scientists work to resolve the scientific difficulties.

Nuclear fusion “it's not ready yet and therefore can't help us now with the climate crisis”said Aneeqa Khan, a nuclear fusion researcher at the University of Manchester in the UK.

However, she added, if progress continues, fusion “has the potential to be part of a green energy mix in the second half of the century.”