China is set to create the prototype of an “artificial sun”—a high-powered nuclear fusion reactor—by 2035, according to Interesting Engineering.
What’s going on: The country announced late last month that its “state-owned institutions, led by the China National Nuclear Corporation … are establishing another state-owned company called China Fusion Energy Inc. to consolidate resources and efforts for developing the nuclear fusion reactor.”
- The CNNC aims to have the technology—which it says will be seven times hotter than the sun—in commercial use by 2050, according to The Sun.
- All current commercial nuclear reactors use fission, or atom splitting, to produce energy.
- In August, U.S. scientists achieved a net energy gain in a nuclear fusion reaction for the second time ever. They achieved the first last April.
Why it’s important: Nuclear is a carbon-free energy source, and China has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, Interesting Engineering reports.
- Relatedly, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced less-stringent licensing requirements last year for future nuclear projects.
Another sun: South Korea made a significant upgrade to its own “artificial sun” this week, according to Gizmodo.
- “The Korea Institute of Fusion Energy has installed a new diverter in the KSTAR tokamak [a device that does nuclear fusion using high-pressured, high-temperature, electrically charged gases], allowing the artificial sun to sustain high-ion temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius for longer.”
The NAM’s view: “China’s nuclear efforts should serve as further impetus for the U.S. to reform its broken permitting system and adopt tax provisions that support research and development in order to achieve our own energy security,” NAM Director of Domestic Policy Mike Davin said.
- “Developing and deploying the next generation of nuclear reactors is critical; America’s innovators are proving that they are up to the task. Now is not the time to allow congressional inaction to slow their progress.”