Chinese scientists claim to have made a major breakthrough in the development of sustainable fusion energy. The research group at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) say they’ve heated plasma gas to over 50 million degrees celsius, almost three times the temperature of the sun’s core, for 102 seconds.

Just last week German scientists managed to heat hydrogen gas to 80 million degrees for a quarter of a second. The implications of the Chinese and German breakthroughs are massive. Sustained hydrogen plasma could potentially replace the need for nuclear fission and fossil fuels, creating a clean energy source powered by the same process that powers the sun.

The complicated process involves superheating hydrogen gas within a circular reactor while holding it away from the walls with high-powered magnets to create a plasma gas capable of emitting extreme heat energy.

According to EAST, the latest breakthrough is just a stepping stone to a greater goal. “EAST’s official scientific goal is to achieve a 100 million degree plasma for 1000 seconds,” the research unit said in a statement on their website. “But we still have to face many challenges in science and technology before we can achieve this scientific objective”

The EAST Tokamak reactor is located at the Institute of Physical Science in Hefei, about 400 kilometers west of Shanghai.

Credit: The Institute Of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy Of Sciences
Credit: The Institute Of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy Of Sciences

Cate is a tech writer. She worked as a journalist in Australia, Mongolia and Myanmar. You can reach her (in Chinese or English) at: @catecadell or

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