Tuesday, June 06, 2006

China claims progress in fusion, says experimental reactor this year

Chinese scientists have completed construction of an experimental superconducting fusion reactor that will replicate the same energy generation process that fuels the sun, with tests to begin as early as July, state media reported Friday.

The Tokamak fusion device, built in Hefei, the capital of eastern China's Anhui province, is a smaller version of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to be built in southern France, which is not expected to be fully operational for a decade, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported.

Unlike conventional fission reactors, nuclear fusion produces no greenhouse gas emissions and only low levels of radioactive waste. Researchers hope it may eventually provide a cheaper, safer, cleaner and endless energy resource, reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power.

China's reactor, known by the acronym EAST, for experimental advanced superconducting Tokamak, was built at the Institute of Plasma Physics, a research department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Hefei.

Although about a dozen experimental Tokamak reactors are in operation worldwide, the technology is still under development. The newly built Chinese reactor is a further advancement on the design.


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