A bright dream
A bright new opporunity
EAST: Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak
70 million degrees Celsius
The cleanest source of energy
Replicating the sun
A trillion-dollar lightbulb
No fossil fuel, no radioactive waste
Out of China
ITER
By 2025
Safer
No chance of another Chernobyl
Objections
No returns
Power for the people
China sees the light
2050, at best
The UK joins in
The investors approve
Out of science fiction
China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(1/21)
A bright dream

China has been developing for years an “artificial sun”, an energy source with a power capacity that is comparable to our closest star. The latest reports indicate that they have succeeded.

Pictured: The beginnings of the project.

 

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(2/21)
A bright new opporunity

It goes without saying that harnessing a seemingly infinite power source with an amount of energy equivalent to the sun is a game-changer for the whole world.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(3/21)
EAST: Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak

China's “artificial sun” goes by the name of Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). It's a nuclear reactor capable of reaching and surpassing the temperature of the sun.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(4/21)
70 million degrees Celsius

EAST reached 70 million degrees Celsius for 17 minutes, as reported by the Xinhua news agency and picked up by The Independent and South China Morning Post. That is roughly five times the temperature of the sun.

Image: Unsplash / NASA

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(5/21)
The cleanest source of energy

The aim of the project is to go from nuclear fission, which is what nuclear plants currently use, to nuclear fusion, which could be the cleanest source of energy yet.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(6/21)
Replicating the sun

“Nuclear fusion could be the cleanest energy source available because it replicates the sun's physics by merging atomic nuclei to generate large amounts of energy into electricity”, writes Elizabeth Gamillo for The Smithsonian Magazine.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(7/21)
A trillion-dollar lightbulb

Several international news sources claim that China has invested over one trillion US dollars in this artificial sun.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(8/21)
No fossil fuel, no radioactive waste

Replicating the sun would translate into a seemingly infnite source of clean energy. It would not consume fuel, such as coal, gas, or oil. Scientists also claim that it would not produce radioactive waste.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(9/21)
Out of China

China isn't the only one working on this type of project, although probably it is the most advanced yet.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(10/21)
ITER

The United States, the European Union, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and India are all working together in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER. A total of 35 nations are collaborating on this project.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(11/21)
By 2025

ITER, which is located in the southern French region of Provence, is scheduled to start working by 2025.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(12/21)
Safer

Advocates for nuclear fusion argue that this type of power source is safer than nuclear power since it generates reduced radioactivity and little high-level nuclear waste.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(13/21)
No chance of another Chernobyl

There's also no risk of a meltdown, meaning fears of scenarios like Chernobyl, Fukushima, or Three Mile Island would be a thing of the past.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(14/21)
Objections

However, there are a few people who are skeptical about nuclear fusion. “I’m not very excited,” said Chary Rangacharyulu, an expert in nuclear physics at the University of Saskatchewan, per BBC World.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(15/21)
No returns

Rangacharyulu and other critics point out that, right now, nuclear fusion can only consume more energy than it can provide in return.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(16/21)
Power for the people

Another con is that we haven't figured out yet how we can repurpose all that raw power into electricity for everyday use.

Image: Unsplash / Anthony Indraus

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(17/21)
China sees the light

Despite all this, research marches on. If the project is successful, China would have an important edge when it comes to energy production worldwide.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(18/21)
2050, at best

The most optimistic forecasts set 2050 as the year humanity would have managed to exploit and channel the sun-like power of nuclear fusion.

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(19/21)
The UK joins in

The latest country to bet on nuclear fusion is the United Kingdom, which is currently seeking a location to build its own experimental nuclear reactor.

Imagen: Unsplash / Martin Sepion

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(20/21)
The investors approve

Bloomberg reports that investors believe that nuclear fusion is a safe bet and in 2020 they invested up to 300 million US dollars in private enterprises linked to these projects.

Image: Unsplash / Pepi Stojanovski

China's trillion-dollar 'artificial sun'
(21/21)
Out of science fiction

The idea of harvesting the energy of something as powerful as the sun might have sounded like an idea out of fantasy or science fiction just a few years back. Now, it's around the corner of becoming a reality.

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