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China Pushes Ahead Toward Its Fusion Energy Test Reactor

Dec. 8, 2016 (EIRNS)—The progress Chinese fusion scientists are making in experiments in their EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) reactor in Hefei has reinforced their confidence to proceed in the design of their next-step Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFSTR), scheduled to come on line in 2025. Recently, EAST set a world record in a 100-second burn in a high-density hydrogen plasma. "It is a milestone event," said Professor Luo Guangnan, deputy director of the EAST facility, "a confidence boost for humanity to harness energy from fusion."

The South China Morning Post article states that China is "the only nation increasing funding for fusion," noting the U.S. MIT Alcator shut-down. "China is the only nation in the world increasing its budget for fusion research," said Dr. Luo. "The funding in Europe has been dwindling, a proposal for the construction of new research facilities in the U.S. was rejected by Congress, and progress in Japan has also stagnated." As a result, "In each of our experiments in recent years, the number of foreign participants easily exceeded 100," said Luo. The article reports that Chinese fusion scientists are "leaving other nations in the dust."

"It is hoped that the proposal for CFETR construction can be approved by the government within the next five years," Chinese fusion pioneer, Dr. Wan Yuanxi, said at an international fusion conference last month. The Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor would go into operation in 2030, generating 200 Megawatts of electricity initially, and then be up-graded in the following decade to around a Gigawatt. Although the conservative approach would be to wait and see the results of ITER’s first fusion experiments before taking the next step, ITER’s first plasma experiments are now delayed to 2025, China is not going to wait, but plans to move into the stage of an engineering a reactor, confident that ITER will reach its goals.

An interview with Dr. Wan on the history and goals of China’s fusion program is in the March 11, 2011 issue of EIR.

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