Superconducting nuclear fusion research device called KSTAR set a major record of maintaining super-thermal plasma temperature of 100 million degrees for 20 seconds. By doing so, it has written a new history in nuclear fusion research.
Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE, President Yoo Seok-jae) announced on Thursday that its KSTAR research center achieved such major record after conducting a joint study with Seoul National University and Columbia University.
Not only the record is the highest record in the world, it also more than doubles last year’s record of 8 seconds. After achieving 1.5 second of plasma temperature of 100 million degrees during an experiment in 2018, KSTAR research center has been breaking its past record every year.
Although there were cases of achieving ultra-high plasma temperature momentarily throughout the world, there was never an instant when such temperature was maintained for more than ten seconds. When conductive magnet such as copper was used in the past, there was an issue of temperature rising excessively during a process of discharging electric current to confine plasma. This was due to magnet’s inherent characteristic of high electric resistance. Even when superconducting magnet that has almost no resistance is used, development of stable operational technology has been an issue. KSTAR surpassed a limit once again through an improved next-generation plasma operational mode called “ITB (Internal Transport Barrier) mode 3” ITB’s key principle is to form energy barrier and prevent leakage of plasma and it requires advanced control technology.

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<Progress of maintaining 100 million degrees ultra-high plasma temperature KSTAR research center succeeded in maintaining the temperature for 20 seconds last month. >

This year’s experiment started back in August and will last until December 10 and it will account for a total of 110 experiments. It is possible that KSTAR will be able to achieve additional research results.
“Maintaining 100 million degrees for a long period of time will be a key task that leads to realization of nuclear fusion energy.” said Yoon Si-woo who is the director of the research center. “Our recent record of 20 seconds will be an important turning point.”
Director Yoon also proposed a goal of maintaining the temperature for 300 seconds by 2025. 300 seconds is a reference point that proves permanent operation is possible.
KFE put out these amazing achievements after becoming an independent research agency recently. It has become an independent agency since November 20 after it was operating as National Fusion Research Institute under Korea Basic Science Institute. It will hold an opening ceremony on Friday.
“We are extremely pleased about informing the people in South Korea about our amazing research result in nuclear fusion while becoming an independent research agency at the same time.” said President Yoo of KFE. “As an agency that leads global nuclear fusion study, we are going to carry on our studies in order to achieve a goal of realizing nuclear fusion energy.”
Staff Reporter Kim, Youngjoon |