HL-2M Tokamak: The Artificial Sun of China

  • IASbaba
  • December 6, 2020
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HL-2M Tokamak: The Artificial Sun of China

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Sci & Tech

In news

  • China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

Key takeaways

  • The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device.
  • Name of the mission: Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).
  • Location: Sichuan province 
  • The reactor is often called an “artificial sun” due to the enormous heat and power it produces.
  • It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius which is approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
  • Scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

Important value addition

  • Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons).
  • Fusion is the process by which the sun and other stars generate light and heat. 
  • It is a nuclear process, where energy is produced by smashing together light atoms.
  • It is the opposite reaction of fission, where heavy elements like Uranium and Thorium are split apart.
  • For a nuclear fusion reaction to occur, it is necessary to bring two nuclei so close that nuclear forces become active and glue the nuclei together.

Do you know?

  • Nuclear forces are small-distance forces and have to act against the electrostatic forces where positively charged nuclei repel each other.
  • This is the reason nuclear fusion reactions occur mostly in high density, high-temperature environment which is practically very difficult to achieve under laboratory conditions.

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