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South Korea ignites a spark of nuclear fusion hope

DAEJEON – South Korea’s artificial sun recently made headlines for passing a key milestone on the roadmap toward useable nuclear fusion – a Holy Grail energy source that could provide mankind with clean, safe and virtually unlimited energy.

In November last year, it was announced that the KSTAR, or Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research facility, had achieved a 30-second fusion plasma operation at ion temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius.

Although that is a key milestone, it remains far distant from the end game. And that end game will not be realized by South Korea alone – indeed, the artificial sun is only one component in a much larger international project: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER.

KSTAR, and related facilities around the world such as China’s EAST that all contribute to ITER, hold the tantalizing promise of solving two of mankind’s most vexing problems.