KSTAR, KFE's fusion research device which it refers to as an "artificial sun," managed to sustain plasma with temperatures of 100 million degrees for 48 seconds during tests between December 2023 and February 2024, beating the previous record of 30 seconds set in 2021, according to the Korean Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) in South Korea.

Nuclear fusion seeks to replicate the reaction that makes the sun and other stars shine, by fusing together two atoms to unleash huge amounts of energy.

Often referred to as the holy grail of climate solutions clean energy, fusion has the potential to provide limitless energy without planet-warming carbon pollution. But mastering the process on Earth is extremely challenging.

The most common way of achieving fusion energy involves a donut shaped reactor called a tokamak in which hydrogen variants are heated to extraordinarily high temperatures to create a plasma.

High temperature and high density plasmas, in which reactions can occur for long durations, are vital for the future of nuclear fusion reactors, director of the KSTAR Research Center at the Korean Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE) Si-Woo Yoon told CNN.

Sustaining these high temperatures "has not been easy to demonstrate due to the unstable nature of the high temperature plasma," he said, which is why this recent record is so significant.

The ultimate aim is for KSTAR to be able to sustain plasma temperatures of 100 million degrees for 300 seconds by 2026, a "a critical point" to be able to scale up fusion operations, Si-Woo Yoon said.
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