Korean Artificial Sun – KSTAR Fusion Reactor – Sets New World Record

KSTAR has set a new world record for 20-second operation at 100 million ° C. It aims to operate continuously at high temperatures plasma More than 100 million degrees in 300 seconds by 2025.

Korea’s Tokamak Advanced Research Superconducting Device (KSTAR), a fusion device also known as the Korean artificial sun, set a new world record by holding high-temperature plasma at 20 seconds with an ion temperature of more than 100 million degrees.

On November 24, 2020, a joint study conducted by the KSTAR Research Center of the Korean Fusion Energy Institute (KEF) with the National University of Seoul (SNU) and Columbia University In the United States, plasma was able to operate continuously with an ion temperature of more than 100 million degrees for 20 seconds, which is one of the basic conditions for nuclear fusion in the 2020 KSTAR Plasma campaign.

It is an achievement to extend the 8-second plasma operation by 8 seconds in the 2019 plasma KSTAR campaign. In the 2018 experiment, KSTAR reached a plasma ion temperature of 100 million degrees for the first time (adhesion time: about 1.5 seconds)


KSTAR. Credit: National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI)

To re-create the fusion reactions that take place in the sun on Earth, hydrogen isotopes must be placed inside a fusion device like KSTAR to create a plasma state where ions and electrons are separated, and the ions must be heated and kept at high temperatures.

To date, there are other fusion devices that have briefly managed plasma at temperatures of 100 million degrees or more. None of them have broken the barrier of holding the operation for 10 seconds or more. This is the operating limit of a normal conductive device and it was difficult to maintain a stable plasma state in the fusion device at such high temperatures for a long time.

* Limitations of a Normal Conductive Device: Because KSTAR is not a fusion device with a superconducting magnet, fusion devices based on normal conductive magnets such as copper cannot operate for long periods of time, creating a magnetic field strong enough to limit plasma through the magnet. it heats up due to its resistance.

KSTAR Tokamak

KSTAR Tokamak. Credit: National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI)

In the 2020 experiment, KSTAR improved the performance of the Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) mode, one of the plasma generation modes of operation developed last year, and managed to maintain the plasma state for a long time, overcoming existing limitations. ultra-high temperature plasma operation.

Si-Woo Yoon, director of KFE’s KSTAR Research Center, explained, “The technologies needed for 100 million long-term plasma operations are key to realizing fusion energy, and KSTAR has been successful. in the race to secure technologies, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future. “

“If the KSTAR experiment overcomes some of the obstacles in the long and long operation of high-temperature ITB modes, it gives us one more step in the development of technologies for the implementation of nuclear fusion energy,” added Professor Yong-Su Na. SNU Department of Nuclear Engineering, which has been working on a study of the KSTAR plasma operation.

Dr. Young-Seok Park of Columbia University, who helped create high-temperature plasma, said, “We are very honored to be a part of this important achievement at KSTAR. The 100 million-degree ion temperature achieved by enabling efficient plasma heating of the nucleus demonstrated the unique capability of the KSTAR superconducting device, and will be recognized as a solid basis for obtaining steady-state fusion plasma. ”

The KSTAR device went into operation last August and plans to continue the plasma generation experiment until December 10, conducting a total of 110 plasma experiments, including high-performance plasma operation and plasma disruption relief experiments, which are joint experiments with domestic and foreign researchers. organizations.

In addition to being successful in high-temperature plasma operation, the KSTAR Research Center conducts experiments on a variety of topics, including ITER research, designed to solve complex problems in fusion research during the experimental period.

KSTAR will share key results from its experiments in 2020 with fusion researchers from around the world at the IAEA Fusion Energy Conference in May.

KSTAR’s ultimate goal is to be successful in continuous operation of 300 seconds with an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees by 2025.

KFE President Suk Jae Yoo said, “I am pleased to announce the new commercialization of KFE as an independent Korean research organization.”

As of November 20, 2020, KFE, the first National Fusion Research Institute, an organization that is a member of the Korean Institute of Basic Sciences, was re-launched as an independent research organization.

Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) is the only research institute specializing in nuclear fusion in Korea. Based on the development and operation of KSTAR’s superconducting fusion research device, KFE aims to achieve pioneering research results, develop basic technology to market nuclear fusion, and train excellent nuclear fusion staff. In addition, the institute is leading its efforts to unify the energy era of nuclear unification through active participation in the ITER project in the mid-21st century.

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