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China’s Answer to the Malthusian West: Fusion Power in Six Years

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EIRNS—According to the EurAsian Times of Sept. 16, Professor Peng Xianjue of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics announced on Sept. 9 that the Chinese government had approved the construction of the world’s largest pulsed-power plant in Chengdu, Sichuan province. He told a gathering hosted by Beijing-based think tank Techxcope that the country intends to create nuclear fusion energy by 2028. China already holds the record for employing an “artificial sun” for a reaction lasting more than 17 minutes at a slightly lower temperature of 70 million degrees Celsius. According to publicly accessible information, Xianjue, 81, designed some of China’s most advanced small nuclear warheads and worked as a top advisor to the country’s nuclear weapons program.

This Chinese hybrid fusion/fission device will rely on a Z-pinch machine, only recognized recently as a possible route for nuclear fusion, anticipated to be finished in 2025 in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province and capable of generating 50 million amperes of electricity. This figure is approximately twice as much as the record-breaking Z pulsed power facility, a comparable machine at the Sandia National Laboratory in the US. Z-Pinch machines can store huge amounts of electricity and release it in nanoseconds. The electric pulse can generate “enough pressure and radiation for two lightweight atoms to fuse into a heavier one, and give up some mass in the form of energy.”

Xianjue indicated that his team would attempt to ignite a nuclear fusion reaction using a modest quantity of the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium. The team intends to precisely regulate the procedure to limit the pulse energy released to a few hundred million joules, or around the same strength as a 20-kilogram (44-lb) bag of TNT. And in contrast to earlier designs, the Chinese facility’s fusion energy will not be used to power the grid, but rather to create a swamp of fast particles that will strike uranium, the fuel for the facility’s fission component. According to Peng, this combination of fusion and fission reactors gave rise to the Chinese design’s designation of Z-FFR.

“Fusion ignition is the jewel in the crown of science and technology in today’s world,” Professor Xianjue stated, according to the South China Morning Post. “Being the world’s first to achieve energy-scale fusion energy release will lay the most important milestone in the road to fusion energy for human beings,” he added.