Last week, physicists from the Max Planck Institute in Germany managed to heat hydrogen gas to 80 million degrees Celsius and sustain a cloud of hydrogen plasma for a quarter of a second. Now, physicists from China have made an announcement that their own nuclear fusion machine, known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), has produced hydrogen plasma at 49.999 million degrees Celsius, and managed to sustain it for as long as 102 seconds – hundreds of times longer than the German team.
The German team behind Wendelstein 7-X (W7X) says that the ideal temperature to sustain hydrogen plasma is 100 million degrees Celsius, and this was the temperature that physicists from China were hoping to hit last week. However, they settled it to just under 50 million degree Celsius.
Stephen Chen from the South China Morning Post reports that their ultimate goal is to hit 100 million degrees Celsius, and sustain the resulting hydrogen plasma for over 1,000 seconds (nearly 17 minutes). However, the German team says that amount of temperature could conceivably sustain plasma for as long as 30 minutes.
Well, these new results from China are based on a statement released by the Hefei Institute of Physical Science. We must remain skeptical as there is no peer-review paper detailing the experiment yet.