Down jackets and jeans from the Soviet Union for Chinas first artificial sun

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 Down jackets and jeans from the Soviet Union for Chinas first artificial sun


EAST, an all-superconducting Tokamak scientific device known as the artificial sun. The pictures in this paper are all the pictures of Wechat Public Number of the Science and Technology Daily (except its signature).

What is the use of down jackets and jeans worth 4 million yuan? More than 20 years ago, they bought Chinas first artificial sun.

Human beings are eager to simulate nuclear fusion within the sun on the earth and hope to be able to deliver their amazing energy to power stations steadily. Tokamak is peoples hope of achieving perfect energy, also known as artificial sun.

Since the 1950s, tokamaks have been developed all over the world. In the early 1990s, the Soviet Union began to develop the second generation of Tokamak, intending to send the first generation of devices to other countries, which is a rare opportunity for zero-start China. Academician Huo Yuping, then director of the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed to replace them with jeans, down jackets!

So, We exchanged 4 million yuan of down clothes, jeans, porcelain and other living goods for a device worth 18 million rubles at that time. Li Jiangang, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said.

After three and a half years of disassembly and transformation, Chinese scientists have achieved better experimental results than other countries in this new device. However, in order to achieve nuclear fusion, a new generation of fully superconducting Tokamak nuclear fusion experimental device must be built.

In September 2006, EAST, the worlds first fully superconducting non-circular cross-section nuclear fusion device independently designed and built by China, was built. Compared with similar international experimental devices, EAST gained four first in the world at that time, even with the least capital, the fastest construction speed, the earliest operation and the fastest plasma discharge after operation.

ITER, launched by the United States, France and other countries in the mid-1980s, aims to build the worlds first controlled thermonuclear fusion experimental reactor. It was at this time that China was incorporated into the seven-party cooperation.

From Day by Day to Running Together

Deuterium and tritium, which are abundant isotopes in sea water, can release enormous energy in the process of coalescing into a helium atom, similar to the process in which the sun produces light and heat. If human beings master nuclear fusion energy, they will have clean energy that can be used for billions of years.

Therefore, the controlled thermonuclear fusion experimental device is called artificial sun, which is the hope of the earth to find a way out of energy. The most promising experimental scheme for nuclear fusion is called Tokamak, which confines high-temperature nuclear fuel with an ultra-strong magnetic field.

Working Principle of Fusion Reactor Li Jiangang Diagram

The journey of artificial sun began in the 1950s, when the whole world was making Tokamaks. The first semi-superconducting nuclear fusion device owned by China was introduced from abroad in the 1990s and reformed and developed. Li Jiangang, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, recalls.

Scientists took a year and a half to remove it all, and two years to put it together. They did a lot of experiments on it. Song Yuntao, deputy director of the Institute of Plasmas of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: Other countries have achieved a few seconds, and we have achieved a discharge of 10 million degrees Celsius for 60 seconds on this device. But to achieve nuclear fusion, we must build a fully superconducting Tokamak.

This is a tokamak device that uses magnetic field to restrain plasma.

China should build its own nuclear fusion experimental device! The team set up by PLASMA in 1998 aims to build EAST, the worlds first fully superconducting non-circular cross-section nuclear fusion device. Its Chinese name Oriental Super Ring places great expectations on the Chinese scientific community.

Twelve laboratories and two technical support centers have been set up to overcome difficulties one by one. Insulators are the core components. This kind of parts only the size of ballpoint pens requires hundreds of them. Foreign quotations cost thousands of dollars. Scientists bite their teeth: Its too expensive to believe that we cant make it ourselves!

So, Dr. Pan Wanjiang led a group for three years, and finally developed the insulator successfully. However, conductor development, water cooling system, precision processing... Difficulties come one after another, but failures come one after another. Some Scientists prefer to walk in the ice and snow for more than 40 minutes every day in order to save money when solving technical difficulties abroad. The old scientist, who was nearly old and rare, fainted in the laboratory in high temperature. The first sentence when he woke up was to ask how his work was.

This is the artificial sun known as the all-superconducting Tokamak Science Facility EAST (Aug. 16). Information Map of Xinhua News Agency

In September 2006, EAST designed and constructed by China was completed, and the first successful discharge was completed. A high temperature plasma discharge with current of 200 kA and time of nearly 3 seconds was obtained. Compared with similar international experimental devices, it gained four first in the world at that time, even with the least capital, the fastest construction speed, the earliest operation and the fastest plasma discharge after operation.

ITER, launched by the United States, France and other countries in the mid-1980s, aims to build the worlds first controlled thermonuclear fusion experimental reactor. It was at this time that China was incorporated into the seven-party cooperation.

Invest $10 billion to join ITER

In 2003, China formally joined the ITER negotiations as an equal partner.

In November 2006, Xu Guanhua, then Minister of Science and Technology, signed the Agreement on Joint Implementation of ITER Plan and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities at the Elysee Palace in France. In August 2007, the NPC formally considered and adopted the document of the agreement. ITER International Fusion Energy Organization was formally established in October 2007. In October 2008, the Ministry of Science and Technology Nuclear Fusion Center was established.

ITER Reactor Operation Chart

It is hard to imagine the hardships behind this journey, accompanied by many disputes.

Pan Chuanhong, a researcher at the Fusion Center, said that the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe spent $1.5 billion on the design in more than a decade. Chinas entry into ITER actually involves the interpretation and digestion of design technology for the future development of fusion energy in our country.

However, at that time, Chinas research funding was limited, and whether to join as an equal partner was controversial.

The threshold of entry is 10%, 10% is about 10 billion RMB. At that time, the overall strength of the country was not strong, and the investment in scientific research was not as strong as it is now. At that time, the total investment in scientific research was not much, so there were many objections to whether it was worthwhile for our country to spend so much money to join such a project. Luo Delong, Director of the Executive Center of China International Nuclear Fusion Energy Program, Ministry of Science and Technology, said.

During the ITER negotiations, ministries and units such as the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the China Nuclear Corporation and other ministries and units went through many demonstrations. Finally, China formally joined the ITER negotiations as an equal partner, and the Chinese finally became an equal party in this important international arena.

Since 2008, China has undertaken 18 manufacturing tasks of purchasing packages, covering almost all the key components of ITER devices, which are undertaken by hundreds of scientific research institutes and enterprises. In the process of research, development and manufacture of ITER purchasing package, great breakthroughs have been made and a series of key technologies of fusion engineering have been solved.

Up to now, 100% of the purchasing package components delivered to ITER in China have been localized, and all of them are 100% qualified at one time and delivered on time. The two Directors-General of ITER said that China is ahead of all parties in the R&D and production of purchasing packages.

Chinas Nuclear Fusion Technology Leads the World

After years of unremitting efforts, China has built and upgraded Chinas Circulator No. 2 A and Eastern Super Ring EAST, which are used to study the steady and advanced operation of plasma under the condition of high parameters near the core, and to explore in depth the engineering and physical problems of realizing fusion energy.

China Circulator No. 2A is the first large tokamak fusion research facility with divertor in China. Since the installation was completed, three steps have been achieved in China: the first step is the leap from confinement to divertor configurations; the second step is the leap from low confinement mode to high confinement mode; the second step is that the plasma electron temperature reaches 55 million degrees, which is the highest temperature ever achieved by domestic devices; and the third step is the leap from low confinement mode to high confinement mode.

Especially on April 18, 2009, Chinas circulator No. 2A first realized high-constraint mode operation in China, making China the fourth country to realize high-constraint mode operation after the United States, Japan and Europe.

Chinese and French scientists witnessed the successful debugging of EAST teleoperation and maintenance system. Data map

EAST is the worlds first fully superconducting non-circular section Tokamak device. In recent years, EAST has been at the forefront of international competition, and has made outstanding achievements in high performance, steady state and long pulse plasma research.

On the evening of July 3, 2017, EAST device realized the first high confinement operation of 50 million degree plasma continuous discharge for 101.2 seconds in the world, achieving a leap from 30 seconds to 60 seconds and then to 100 seconds. A new world record for nuclear fusion has been set again.

This is the physical experiment of EAST in 2018. The researchers are conducting an internal inspection of the EAST device (taken on August 29). Information Map of Xinhua News Agency

On November 12, 2018, the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced that EAST has recently achieved several major breakthroughs, such as the electron temperature at the plasma center reaching 100 million degrees Celsius. The experimental parameters obtained are close to the physical conditions required for the future steady-state operation mode of the fusion reactor and a key step towards the future operation of the fusion reactor experiment.

These milestone breakthroughs indicate that Chinas magnetic confinement fusion research continues to be at the forefront of the world in the physical and engineering aspects of steady-state operation, which is of great scientific significance for the construction and operation of the International Thermonuclear Fusion Test Reactor (ITER) and the Future China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR).

In fact, compared with ITER, EAST is only 1/4 of its size, but the successful experience of EAST has supported the construction of ITER. If a high temperature superconducting current lead with 90 kiloampere current is developed, the refrigeration power consumption of ITER will be reduced by more than 2/3 per year, which proves the risk of ITER magnet power supply design scheme and designs a new scheme. Song Yuntao looks forward to the future like this: EAST will surely make more world-class and unique contributions to ITER and the next generation of fusion devices.

Design Drawings of China Engineering Fusion Reactor

CFETR started design research in 2011. According to the assumption of Chinese scientists, CFETR is completed in two phases. The first phase adopts ITER-like technology with the goal of stable operation, while the second phase focuses on independent innovation with the goal of demonstrating nuclear fusion power generation. CFETRs mission is to build bridges between ITER and future nuclear power substations. CFETR is expected to achieve the goal of Q greater than 25 in the later stage, that is, to release 25 energy per share of energy consumed, while ITER aims to achieve Q greater than 10.

CFETR concept map, of course, CFETR design and manufacturing also need to rely on experts from all over the world. The developed countries such as the United States, Germany, France and Italy have fully participated in the design of CFETR, and their Russian counterparts have also indicated that they will be deeply involved in the CFETR project. At present, CFETR device has completed design research and started engineering design, and is expected to start in the next few years. On the way to develop nuclear fusion energy, China has grown from a catcher and runner to a leader with strong international export capability. Source: Wang Fengzhi_NT2541, responsible editor of Science and Technology Daily - China Science and Technology Network

CFETR Concept Map

Of course, the design and manufacture of CFETR should also rely on experts from all over the world. The developed countries such as the United States, Germany, France and Italy have fully participated in the design of CFETR, and their Russian counterparts have also indicated that they will be deeply involved in the CFETR project. At present, CFETR device has completed design research and started engineering design, and is expected to start in the next few years.

On the way to develop nuclear fusion energy, China has grown from a catcher and runner to a leader with strong international export capability.