China recently conducted a transnational remote controlled plasma discharge experiment with its new generation "artificial sun" device, formally known as an Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), which has been built in Hefei, Anhui province. Through a dedicated data network, experts from General Atomics USA were easily able to start the nuclear fusion experimental installation from the other side of the globe with the click of a mouse.
Wu Songtao, deputy director of the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that the remote controlled plasma discharge has laid the foundation for broader joint research into nuclear fusion in the near future, and set an example for multinational experimentation with international thermonuclear fusion experimental reactors (ITER).
It was reported that the data and discharge images received by experts in the DIII-D experimental nuclear fusion laboratory at General Atomics USA are exactly the same as those obtained by the Chinese scientists in the control room. In this first international operation, the plasma discharge lasted close to five seconds and generated an electrical current of 250 kiloamperes.
According to Wu, due to the time difference between the continents, EAST physical experiments can be carried out by remote operation around the clock. The Chinese can do experiments during the daytime and the Americans can work the night shift. A suitable time can also be arranged for the Europeans to get involved, said Wu. This way, scientists will be able to accelerate fusion research enabling people to channel the energy produced by nuclear fusion as early as possible.
Wu also noted that the next ITER, another experimental device developed by China, the EU, the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and India will be built in France. By adopting the same means of experimentation, scientists will not need to work on site.
On September 28, 2006, after eight years of construction at a cost of around 200 million yuan, the EAST was completed and put into operation. In the first round of experiments, scientists realized circular high temperature plasma discharge which lasted nearly for five seconds and generated an electrical current of 500 kiloamperes. The EAST is the world's first nuclear fusion experimental installation with a superconducting magnet and active cooling system. China thereupon marched into the ranks of advanced countries in the field of magnetic confinement fusion.
By People's Daily Online