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Popular science writers hard core popular science! What is the ultimate energy "artificial sun"

on April 22, science fiction writers entered the new state-owned enterprise and came to CNNC for the second stop. At the Southwest Institute of physics of the nuclear industry, China's "artificial sun" device was opened to science fiction and science popularization writers for the first time. According to reports, the greatest significance of this device is to provide a nuclear fusion research platform and help develop the ultimate energy of mankind. Why do you say that? Listen to the introduction of popular science writers

energy belonging to the universe and the future

energy is a resource that can provide light, heat, power and other forms of energy needed for human production or life. As one of the greatest inventions of mankind and the most ideal energy in the future, nuclear energy plays an increasingly important role in the world energy system

what is nuclear fusion

nuclear fusion, as its name suggests, uses nuclear fusion reactions to produce energy. The first nuclear fusion reaction discovered by mankind is the nuclear reaction in the sun, which constantly radiates energy outward and transmits energy to the earth. Therefore, nuclear fusion is also regarded as the energy of the universe. Its benefits are also obvious, such as high safety, low waste disposal cost, easy access to raw materials, and so on

as the fuel of nuclear fusion, the isotope deuterium of hydrogen is extremely abundant in seawater. Deuterium extracted from a liter of seawater can release the energy equivalent to burning 300 liters of gasoline in a complete fusion reaction. Nuclear fusion reactors will not produce sulfur and nitrogen oxides that pollute the environment, nor will they release greenhouse gases, and nuclear fusion reactors are absolutely safe. It can be said that it is an ideal energy without pollution, nuclear waste and almost unlimited resources. The realization of controlled nuclear fusion power generation will fundamentally solve the energy problem of mankind

this is easy to say, but not easy to practice. The sun is a medium mass star, with a mass equivalent to N times that of the earth. Its interior can reach a high temperature of 15million degrees and a high pressure of N atmospheres, so it can produce sustainable nuclear reactions. The explosion mechanism of the hydrogen bomb is simply to use the atomic bomb as a fuse and use the high temperature and high pressure produced by the nuclear fission reaction of the atomic bomb to trigger the fusion reaction of nuclear materials

controlled nuclear fusion can be controlled and safe by means of inertial restraint or magnetic restraint. The heat obtained from it can be converted into mechanical energy, and then into electrical energy, so as to replace the fossil energy widely used at present

fifty year spell

because the basic physical principle of the controlled nuclear fusion device is similar to the mechanism of nuclear reaction inside the sun, this device is vividly called "artificial sun"

as a technology enthusiast, I have heard of the magic spell of "controlled nuclear fusion power generation, forever 50 years later". This mantra says that since the principle of controlled nuclear fusion was put forward in the 1950s, whenever the media asked relevant experts when they could realize power generation, experts always said that 50 years later, 10 years after 10 years, until the end of the 20th century, the answer was still the same

why is there a magic spell of "forever 50 years later" for controlled nuclear fusion power generation? How to break this spell

with this question, I consulted Liu Yong, the president of the Institute. He said sincerely:

there is indeed this problem. Controlled nuclear fusion is too difficult

now countries have joined forces to make technological breakthroughs. In 2007, ITER organization was established. International Thermonuclear Fusion Experimental Reactor (ITER) is one of the largest and most far-reaching international scientific research cooperation projects in the world at present, and its scale is second only to the international large-scale scientific engineering program of the international space station. ITER will be the first fusion experimental reactor in the world, and it is an essential step to finally realize the commercialization of magnetic confinement fusion energy

The ITER is a superconducting tokamak that can produce large-scale nuclear fusion reactions. Its volume is close to the size of the temple of heaven prayer hall. It is 30 meters high, 28 meters in diameter and weighs 10000 tons. It will use a strong magnetic field to restrain high-temperature plasma, and finally realize the stable and controllable release of nuclear fusion energy. It is expected to realize nuclear fusion power generation in the middle of the world, so as to benefit mankind

as one of the "seven party" members of the Council, China, together with the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, jointly funded this project and undertook the manufacturing task of 18 procurement packages in the engineering construction phase of the project

18 procurement packages undertaken by China, including magnet support, correction field coil system, magnet feeder system, gas injection system, diagnosis system and other important components. It is planned that all large components required for the project will be in place by 2021. The director general of ITER believes that China's delivery of relevant products "on time and with good quality" can be regarded as an example for all partners

president Liu Yong said that the research process will encounter many unexpected difficulties and uncertainties, but challenges and opportunities coexist. When encountering unexpected difficulties, unexpected discoveries and progress often occur, which is also the fun of research. Now it seems that through the unremitting efforts of several generations of researchers around the world, we can see the prospect of controlled nuclear fusion power generation,

it will not take another 50 years, but maybe another 30 years

what is a tokamak

since the late 1940s, various scientific and technological powers in the world have developed various ways to study the confinement methods of nuclear fusion plasma. In this process, people have gradually deepened their understanding of the difficulty of realizing controllable nuclear fusion. In 1954, the Soviet Kurchatov Institute of atomic energy invented the Tokamak device with axisymmetric magnetic field configuration

Tokamak is a ring-shaped magnetic confinement controlled nuclear fusion experimental device, so it is also called the circulator in Chinese. It is a magnetic cage composed of an annular closed magnetic field. The high-temperature and high-pressure plasma is confined in the invisible cage composed of this magnetic field. The shape of this magnetic cage is very similar to a hollow lifebuoy, and a large ring current can be generated in the plasma ring

since the 1970s, Tokamak has gradually shown its unique advantages, and in the 1980s, it has become the mainstream of controlled nuclear fusion research. After nearly half a century of efforts, Tokamak has shown bright prospects, plasma confinement has achieved obvious results, and the temperature has reached hundreds of millions of degrees. The scientific feasibility of generating nuclear fusion energy has been confirmed, but the relevant achievements are produced in the form of short pulses, which is still a long way from the continuous operation of the actual reactor. Moreover, whether the nuclear fusion reaction can achieve tritium self-sustaining still needs experimental verification. If the problem of tritium self-sustaining is solved, we will be a big step away from commercial power generation

the second question I ask Liu Yong is that the research progress of Tokamak is so slow because it may not be the optimal configuration of controlled nuclear fusion devices. Maybe now all countries have a path dependence on Tokamak technology, and the technical configuration that is really suitable for controlled nuclear fusion has not been explored by mankind

in this regard, Liu Yong replied that it is indeed possible, and major countries studying nuclear fusion, including China, are indeed devoting part of their energy to the study of nuclear fusion devices of other configurations. At present, the device second only to Tokamak is called stellar simulator. Germany uses half of the funds for nuclear fusion research to study the configuration of stellar simulators, which is an alternative technical solution. However, it is recognized by the international academic community that although the progress of Tokamak is not so fast, it is still the most promising controllable nuclear fusion device at present

In the 1990s, China formulated a three-step nuclear energy development strategy of "thermal reactor fast reactor fusion reactor". The outline of the national medium and long term science and technology development plan (year) lists magnetic confinement nuclear fusion as an advanced energy technology. The 13th five year plan for national scientific and technological innovation lists "the development of magnetic confinement fusion energy" as a strategic and forward-looking major scientific issue

the research on nuclear fusion in China began in the 1950s, and began with theoretical and exploratory research. The Southwest Physics Research Institute of the nuclear industry of China Nuclear Power Group was established in Sichuan in 1965, and is the earliest Fusion Research Institute in China. As one of the main technical support and research and development tasks for China's participation in the ITER program, the Institute has undertaken the research, development, processing and manufacturing tasks of most nuclear related components in China's ITER procurement package

from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, China began to carry out key research on Tokamak devices. The China circumfluence 1 (HL-1), which was built at the Southwest Institute of physics of the nuclear industry in 1984, is the first fusion large-scale scientific engineering device independently designed and built in China, marking that China's controlled nuclear fusion research has entered the stage of large-scale physical experiments

come out of the control room, pass through a small compartment with spiral stairs, and pass through a door, which is the "workshop" containing "China circulator No. 2A (HL-2A)"

the first feeling is that this machine is large, and the second feeling is that it is large because it is as high as two floors and covers an area of hundreds of square meters. It is said that there are many kinds of pipelines, coils, wires and cabinets around it, which are full of complex technical details. It is this machine that represents human attempts to tame the power of the sun

I have seen the pictures of the circulator for a long time, and I have also seen about it on TV. Today, when I really stand in front of it, I can say that I am close at hand, but I can't understand its meaning for a moment, let alone understand its principle

from the perspective of energy history, facing it is equivalent to facing the first fire raised by ape man, the first coal-fired boiler in the early stage of the industrial revolution, and the first oil well in the 19th century... I'm afraid this analogy is not appropriate, and the significance of the controlled nuclear fusion device in the history of science and technology may be more unique. The above-mentioned energy sources are solar nuclear fusion energy stored in the earth's crust since geological times and solidified by plant photosynthesis. The circulator, on the other hand, hopes to cross those intermediate links and go straight to the theme

the young man who explained to us is a doctoral student of the Institute of nuclear physics. We can regard him and his colleagues and teachers as the future Kuafu or Prometheus, who brought the fire of stars to the earth safely

how do ordinary people feel when they are close to the "sun"

I think of Khrushchev's feelings when he first saw the Soviet carrier rocket in his memoirs, "we people are like fools. We look here and touch there, and we almost lick the taste of the rocket shell with our tongue"

at this time, I felt more helpless than Khrushchev

I can only accept it in fragments: some devices detect neutrons released by nuclear fusion, some measure magnetic fields, some supply power for nuclear fusion, and some control magnetic fields

after all, controlled nuclear fusion is not an independent specialty, but a highly integrated discipline. There are too many people engaged in lasers, valves, plasma physics, materials, electronic control, computers, etc... no one can master all the knowledge about it. This research institute, known as the chief engineer unit, is specially responsible for system integration. Nuclear fusion research is also a symbol of a country's scientific and technological strength and industrial strength. You can't do this without a certain level

I can only quote a few sporadically

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