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South Korea’s Artificial Sun Set New World Record
Plasma Operation
South Korea’s Artificial Sun Set New World Record
  • By Cho Jin-young
  • December 15, 2016, 05:00
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Inside of vacuum container of KSTAR developed by National Fusion Research Institute
Inside of vacuum container of KSTAR developed by National Fusion Research Institute

 

The National Fusion Research Institute announced on December 14 that it succeeded in carrying out a high-performance plasma operation for a new world record of 70 seconds in the H mode of the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR).

The H mode refers to a high-performance state in which a nuclear fusion device’s plasma containment efficiency doubles under certain conditions. The continuation of the H mode is critical in terms of energy production efficiency. The institute is aiming to continue the H mode operation for 300 seconds in or before 2020. Six years ago, the KSTAR became the first one of its kind to realize the H mode. Since then, it has continued to break its own duration records for years.

In addition, the KSTAR realized the internal transport barrier (ITB) mode this year. The ITB mode is characterized by being free from the instability of plasma boundary layers in the H mode and being capable of maintaining high-performance plasma for a long period of time. The accomplishments of the institute were announced in October and November at IAEA and American Physical Society conferences, respectively.

Nuclear fusion energy can be compared to an artificial sun, that is, electricity generation based on the principle that energy is released by the same amount as mass loss when hydrogen atoms in the sun and the like are fused with each other to be turned into helium and so on. Nuclear fusion fuel sources such as heavy hydrogen can be extracted from seawater, meaning this energy production method does no harm to the environment.