The experiment was held at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.
The exercise is a part of the China’s efforts to develop new clean energy sources through the development of next-generation nuclear fusion reactor technology.
Known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), the “Chinese artificial sun” managed to generate plasma temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds before scientists also realized a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for an additional 20 seconds.
The goal of EAST is to create Sun-like energy using deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that is plentiful in the ocean and can provide a steady flow of clean energy. According to estimates, one liter of seawater contains enough deuterium to produce energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline.
China hopes that it can replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas with the fusion energy in order to achieve carbon neutrality and a more ecological society.
“It’s a huge achievement in China’s physics and engineering fields. The experiment’s success lays the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station,” ASIPP director Song Yuntao said, according to People’s Daily.
The EAST artificial sun is also part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a joint effort by global scientists that includes the input of scientists from China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
Experts hope that if development proceeds at the current rate, successful nuclear fusion could be achieved within three decades.