Chinese scientists begun a new round of tests on the reliability of the experimental thermonuclear fusion reactor, nicknamed "the artificial sun".
The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion reactor, which replicates the energy generating process of the sun, was tested at the Institute of Plasma Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.
The reactor was first tested in September 2006. Since then scientists have made adjustments to improve results.
"The new tests show the reactor is very reliable, and we can repeat the experiments," said Wu Songtao, deputy director of the institute.
This new round of tests will continue till Feb. 10.
During the experiment, deuterium and tritium atoms were forced together at a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius. At that temperature, the super heated plasma, which is neither a gas, a liquid nor a solid, should begin to give off its own energy, scientists explained.
The device is planned to eventually create a plasma lasting 1,000 consecutive seconds, the longest a fusion reactor has ever run.
During the first round of experiments, the reactor created a plasma lasting nearly five seconds and generating an electrical current of 500 kiloamperes.
The EAST is an upgrade of China's first-generation Tokamak device and the first of its kind in operation in the world, said Chinese scientists.
The Institute of Plasma Physics spent eight years and 200 million yuan (US$25 million) on building the experimental reactor.
(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2007)