Chinese Company Achieves Fusion Breakthrough with Commercial ‘Artificial Sun’

A commercial ‘artificial sun’ has achieved its first plasma discharge, the developer says

Energy Singularity, a privately-owned Chinese fusion company, has built the world’s first fully high-temperature superconducting tokamak, which it has used to produce plasma, according to state media outlets.

The device, known as HH70 and located in Shanghai, is considered a significant advancement in the development of fusion technology for clean energy production.

A tokamak is a doughnut-shaped device designed to confine plasma, allowing its temperature to be increased to replicate conditions similar to those found on the Sun. The goal is to create a safe and virtually limitless source of electricity. These devices are often referred to as “artificial suns.”

The technology relies on extremely high temperatures generated by fusion reactions, where hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium, releasing vast amounts of energy. Tokamaks, which are large and expensive to build, create magnetic fields to help contain the particles within the plasma.

According to Chinese media, the HH70 tokamak is smaller and less expensive to build than its predecessors. The device utilizes a magnetic system made of high-temperature superconducting material, commonly known as REBCO (Rare Earth Barium Copper Oxide).

This material allows for large-scale production, reducing the cost of Energy Singularity’s tokamaks. Furthermore, the HH70 device is reportedly only 2% the size of conventional tokamaks, providing a significant advantage in the quest to develop a commercially viable device.

Fusion reactors’ performance is typically measured using the Q value, which represents the ratio of energy generated to the input energy required to sustain the reaction. Currently, the highest Q value achieved by a tokamak is 1.53.

Energy Singularity has reportedly committed to building a next-generation tokamak by 2027, with its technology demonstrator expected to be completed by the end of the decade. The company aims to build “artificial suns” with a Q value of 10.