“Artificial Sun” Is One Step Closer to The Dream of A Circle, Uncovering China’s Controlled Nuclear Fusion

Everything grows on the sun. Almost everything that supports the functioning of human society today, from coal, oil and natural gas to wind and biomass, is essentially solar energy, and the energy on the sun comes from internal nuclear fusion reactions. As the children’s song sings, “I have a beautiful desire to grow up to sow the sun”, for a long time, humans have been hoping to create a “artificial sun” through a controlled nuclear fusion reaction, so as to obtain a steady stream of energy, greatly improve people’s lives.

China Circulator No. 2 M device vacuum chamber lifting.   Fan Jin

China Circulator Ii A device, which has achieved fruitful scientific research results.   Guan Yu-chan

Technicians work together to install the vacuum outdoor wall flux ring.   Fan Jin

(This version of the picture is provided by the Southwest Institute of Physics of China Nuclear Group Nuclear Industry)

Journalist Han Weizheng Liu Leyi

Not long ago, China Nuclear Industry Group announced that a new generation of controlled nuclear fusion research device, China Circulator II M, is expected to be operational in 2020. Duan Xuru, director of the Southwest Institute of Physics of the Nuclear Industry of China Nuclear Group, said the completion of the experimental device will provide important technical support for mankind to truly master controlled nuclear fusion. We are one step closer to the dream of an artificial sun.

A steady stream of clean energy

As is known to all, oil is the blood of industry. But fossil energy, represented by oil, has two problems that cannot be avoided: one is non-renewable and the other is pollution. Even if new sources of energy, such as shale gas and combustible ice, are being developed, there is a day to run out of energy. At present, nuclear fission energy also has the problem of limited reaction raw materials (uranium, etc.) and radioactive pollution of nuclear waste.

Is there an energy source that is endless and clean and environmentally friendly? There’s really one, which is controlled nuclear fusion.

In terms of “import”, the reaction raw materials (thorium and thorium atoms) needed for controlled nuclear fusion are abundant on Earth. Radon is very abundant in seawater, and radon extracted from 1 litre of seawater releases the equivalent of burning 300 liters of gasoline in a complete fusion reaction, while thorium can be generated by neutron and lithium reaction, which is abundant in the earth’s crust and seawater.

From the “export” point of view, the product of controlled nuclear fusion is helium and neutrons, does not emit harmful gases, and has little radioactive pollution, with environmentally friendly advantages.

“Once the nuclear fusion energy is used for peace, the earth’s energy will be inexhaustible, the social problems brought about by energy shortages can be completely solved, and people’s living standards will be greatly improved as a result.” “Projects like desalination and starship have been hesitant in the past because of too much energy consumption, and will be able to grow faster in the future with the support of controlled nuclear fusion energy, ” Duan said.

Not only is there zero pollution, not finished, there is another important feature of controlled nuclear fusion: inherent safety. When many people think of nuclear power generation, they think of the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear accident, and thus have a “nuclear-phobia” mentality, talk about nuclear color change. In fact, the nuclear fusion reaction requires harsh conditions such as high temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius of radon fuel and high enough density, and the absence of any small condition can lead to a decrease in temperature density, causing the fusion reaction to stop.

However, there are still many environmental agencies around the world that openly blame nuclear fusion for the safety risks, including the risk of nuclear waste and nuclear leakage. In this regard, Duan Xuru explained: “Because the burning radon plasma is bound by the magnetic field in the vacuum container, its density is several magnitudelower than air, the fusion reactor radon fuel content is also low, so it will not cause an explosion, will not lead to leakage accident.” “

Ideals are good, but they are not easy to achieve. One of the most obvious questions is what container sonings the nuclear fusion.

According to Duan Xuru, the use of nuclear fusion energy on Earth requires that the plasma under artificial control conditions temperature of more than 100 million degrees Celsius. “What is the concept of 100 million degrees?” The sun’s core temperature is about 15 million to 20 million degrees, and tungsten, the planet’s most heat-resistant metal, melts at more than 3,000 degrees. 100 million degrees, more than five to six times the sun’s core temperature. “There is no material on Earth that can directly wrap 100 million-degree plasma into a high temperature, ” explains Zhong Wuru, a special researcher at the Southwest Institute of Physics in the nuclear industry of the China Nuclear Group. “

But the problem is still difficult for human scientists, who “have no choice but to win”, came up with a strong magnetic field to restrain high-temperature nuclear fusion fuel. But what device sits with what device to implement, and continue to explore. From the 1950s onwards, British, American, Soviet and other countries scientists went to follow, fast hoops, magnetic mirrors, imitation synths and other different technical routes. The competition continued into the 1960s, and the Tokamak program, which was eventually proposed by Soviet scientists, took off with spectacular results, and the focus of the international fusion community shifted to Tokamak.

Hard-to-conquer nuclear fusion man

When the world’s controlled nuclear fusion research is in full swing, the construction of China’s “artificial sun” has not been lost. As early as 1955, scientists such as Qian Sanqiang and Li Zhengwu, who had just returned from the United States, proposed China’s “controlled thermonuclear reaction” research, which was almost in sync with the international community’s concern about nuclear fusion.

In 1965, according to the national “three-line” construction unified plan, in the suburbs of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, the establishment of what was then China’s largest nuclear fusion research base – Southwest Institute of Physics, which is also the nuclear industry of the Southwest Institute of Physics (hereinafter referred to as the “Nuclear West Institute”) predecessor.

An important milestone in the history of nuclear fusion research in China was the completion of China Circulator One (HL-1) in 1984. This is China’s first large-scale scientific equipment in the field of nuclear fusion, it for China’s independent design, construction, operation of the “artificial sun” to train a large number of talents, accumulated rich experience.

In the 1980s, the writer Moran visited the institute on the desert mountain high on the 108th stone ladder. According to her recollection, when she first moved to Leshan, the conditions were poor and poor. The researchers lacked shelter and even slept in tents. But the “cradle” of China’s controlled nuclear fusion research is precisely born in such a difficult environment, which can not be separated from the researchers to open up the pioneering soil, the blue wisp of the road. As Moran puts it: “Although the institute’s rooms are like caves, our scientists have a dedication to their own, and in that environment, they have created ‘China Circulator One’, which is three floors tall in design drawings.” “

Since then, China’s magnetic constraint fusion step by step from scratch, from small to large, from weak to strong. China’s first superconducting Tokamak device, HT-7, was built in Hefei in 1995, china built the first Tokamak device with a partial filter level, China Circulator II A (HL-2A); The world’s first fully superconducting Tokamak device, Oriental Superring (EAST), was successfully discharged for the first time in plasma…

The “China Circulator II M” device, which is expected to be put into operation in 2020, will become China’s largest and highest parameter slatecontrolled controlled nuclear fusion research device, with plasma volume more than 2 times that of China’s existing devices, and ion temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius. The current can be increased from 1 megabit perinist to 3 megabits from existing units in China.

As an experimental project developed over many years, many of the fine parts of China Circulator II M are the creation of ancient people. Just as in the “vacuum chamber” of the device, many small errors are not perceived by existing testing instruments, and many times even need to develop new testing equipment on its own, because even dust-sized defects can affect the final results of the experiment.

In order to ensure that the center column is about 2 floors high, weighing about 80 tons of equipment in the process of moving, and installation accuracy does not exceed 0.1 mm deviation, the second M device coil team in a month to do more than a dozen programs, just 2 minutes away, the team finally took nearly 9 hours to successfully complete the handling. “On the move, everyone is like a baby. Liu Xiaolong, head of the project coil group, said, “Not bad, we succeeded.” “

“Now that we’ve given the task to our team, we have an obligation to get things done, to the Nuclear Group, to the nuclear industry and even to the country.” “The words of Liu Yong, project manager of china circulator’s Second M device, are heard.

The Chinese team going international

Controlled nuclear fusion research is very difficult, how difficult? Zhong Wuru gave us a comparison: “After the world’s first atomic bomb exploded, less than ten years after nuclear fission achieved peaceful use, the construction of nuclear power plants.” Scientists think that after the success of the hydrogen bomb, it should not be long before the peaceful use of nuclear fusion can be achieved, and controlled nuclear fusion can be achieved. But later research found that it was not so simple, it needed scientists around the world to work together to complete it. “

The signing of the International Thermonuclear Fusion Experimental Reactor (ITER) program in 2006 was signed. China, the United States, the European Union, Russia, Japan, South Korea and India are among the seven parties involved in the planned construction of the world’s largest Tokamak installation in the Provence region of southern France. ITER is one of the most far-reaching and largest international cooperation projects in the world, and the largest international scientific and technological cooperation project in China as an equal status. Of these, China has taken on about 9% of the procurement package research and development tasks.

“The progress of magnetic constraint fusion research in China over the years has benefited from participating in the ITER program. Duan Xuru said, for example, in the design and construction process of China Circulator II M, through the exchange and learning of existing tokamak devices in the international community, learned a lot of successful experience in the design and construction and operation of tokamak.

Zhong Also cited the example of the nuclear western institute developing THE first wall of ITER procurement package semi-prototype parts. “This is a difficult task for the Chinese team. At that time, the only united States in the world that met the requirements of THE first wall of SPECIAL materials for ITER. Our research team of the United Nations through more than ten years of efforts, not only in the preparation of special materials, but also in the welding process and other technologies have made breakthroughs, the successful development of ITER super heat load first wall semi-prototype parts in the international first through certification, but also let China in this technology to reach the world’s advanced level. Zhong Wulu said, “China’s current ITER procurement package, whether in the development progress or the completion of quality, are in the forefront of the seven parties.” On the international fusion stage, China has a greater say. “

Recognition of China’s controlled nuclear fusion capabilities is also escalating. On September 30, 2019, ITER Host Installation No. 1 contract was signed in Beijing, and the Sino-French consortium led by China Nuclear Group won the bid for the project. The project is equipped with the most important core equipment of the ITER plant, which is as important as the reactor of a nuclear power plant and the heart of the human body. This is the largest nuclear engineering project ever awarded by a Chinese company in the European market.

“We are delighted to have found a highly qualified and active partner to do this,” said ITER Director-General Bigo. We look forward to working with world-renowned industry experts to install one of the world’s most challenging, promising and important scientific equipment on time and to specification. “

“The installation of the core part of the ITER project through international bidding proves that our team is a leader in the world. Yu Jianfeng, chairman of China National Nuclear Group, summed it up with great enthusiasm, “This also marks our country in the nuclear power industry, in the construction and installation of nuclear energy projects, reached the world’s advanced level.” “

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