Last week we reported about Germany’s revolutionary nuclear fusion machine and how it managed to made hydrogen gas to reach 80 million degrees Celsius, and withstand a cloud of hydrogen plasma for almost a quarter of a second. This was a major milestone in the decades-long quest of well-ordered nuclear fusion, because this can practically produce limitless energy that fuels our Sun. Now physicists from China have declared that their own nuclear fusion machine, called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), has made hydrogen plasma at 49.999 million degrees Celsius and that’s not it. It also held it for an impressive 102 seconds.
The EAST machine. Credit: Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences
Their eventual objective is to reach 100 million degrees Celsius, and also sustain the resultant hydrogen plasma for over 1,000 seconds, or 17 minutes. For now, according to the German team, they can possibly sustain its plasma for nearly 30 minutes, now that their 'proof of concept' experiment is currently out of the way.
For now, we have to make it clear that the results from China are grounded on a report by the Hefei Institute of Physical Science, and till we see a proper peer-reviewed paper specifying how they accomplished these temperatures and times, we have to stay skeptical.
But if it checks out accordingly, we actually will be observing "Battle of the doughnut-shaped nuclear fusion machines", with the Germans demanding to work on their time achieved, and the Chinese specially needing to work on their temperatures.