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[KFE NEWS VOL.31] KSTAR achieved thirty-second-long plasma operations at ion temperatures of 100 million ℃


Date of registration 2022-02-28

KSTAR demonstrated the world-leading technology for continuous fusion plasma operation

The Korean artificial sun, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research device (KSTAR), broke its world record for continuous plasma operation by maintaining a plasma ion temperature of over one hundred million degrees Celsius for thirty seconds.

On November 22, the KSTAR Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) announced that during the 2021 campaign it had succeeded in in accomplishing this important performance goal. Such high temperatures are required to produce fusion on Earth and generate energy. Fusion technology continues to gain attention as a method of generating clean, carbon-free energy from fusion reactions, which is the same mechanism that generates solar energy inside the Sun. The Sun’s extreme density and temperature can sustain those fusion reactions. But on the Earth, maintaining the proper conditions for fusion requires special fusion devices. These systems turn hydrogen isotopes into a plasma state, where electrons are separated from the hydrogen ions. For this to occur continuously, the plasma temperatures inside the fusion device must be maintained at over one hundred million degrees C.

KSTAR has been conducting experiments since 2008, to develop advanced technologies for the continuous operation of the super-hot plasma. In 2018, KSTAR achieved plasma ion temperatures exceeding one hundred million degrees. In 2020, it operated such super-hot plasmas for twenty seconds, which was then the longest operating time in the history of fusion research. With the new record-extending ten seconds, KSTAR has achieved another world-class milestone. Great advances in KSTAR’s heating systems and plasma control technologies, which are based on optimized magnetic field conditions, have contributed to increase plasma stabilities in the Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) Mode for fusion reactor operations.

Now KSTAR is planning to improve its power supply systems and install a new tungsten divertor to further prolong operating time. The tungsten divertor is expected to help suppress increases in tokamak wall temperature during the long periods of operation. Researchers will also explore ways to further increase the stability of the ITB Mode, using several measures including real-time feedback control technologies. The KSTAR’s planned goal is to operate for three hundred seconds at one hundred million degrees by 2026.

“The Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) was established as an independent research institute, a legal entity in 2020, to enable more pioneering fusion research with a more stable research environment,” commented Dr. Suk Jae Yoo, President of KFE. “We will strive to contribute to the national energy goals by securing the core fusion technologies in time,” he added.

For more: KFE NEWS vol. 31

 - 2021 KSTAR highlights & interviews

 - Burning waste to generate energy: Plasma pyrolysis gasification technology

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