Nuclear Energy

HL-2M Tokamak: The Artificial Sun of China


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HL-2M Tokamak, Nuclear fusion and fission

Mains level : Artificial Sun

China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

Scratch your school basics to answer this PYQ:

Q.The known forces of nature can be divided into four classes, viz, gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force.

With reference to them, which one of the following statements is not correct? (CSP 2012)

(a) Gravity is the strongest of the four

(b) Electromagnetism act only on particles with an electric charge

(c) Weak nuclear force causes radioactivity

(d) Strong nuclear force holds protons and neutrons inside the nuclear of an atom.

HL-2M Tokamak

  • The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device.
  • The mission is named Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST).
  • Located in Sichuan province and completed late last year, the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.
  • It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius- approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
  • Scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.

Back2Basics: Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons).
  • Fusion is the process by which the sun and other stars generate light and heat. It is a nuclear process, where energy is produced by smashing together light atoms.
  • It is the opposite reaction of fission, where heavy elements like Uranium and Thorium are split apart.

Nuclear Fusion Reaction

  • For a nuclear fusion reaction to occur, it is necessary to bring two nuclei so close that nuclear forces become active and glue the nuclei together.
  • Nuclear forces are small-distance forces and have to act against the electrostatic forces where positively charged nuclei repel each other.
  • This is the reason nuclear fusion reactions occur mostly in high density, high-temperature environment (millions of degree Celsius) which is practically very difficult to achieve under laboratory conditions.

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2 years ago

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