the Institute of Plasma Physics at Hefei, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has successfully completed the first tests of the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion experiment. The final assembly of the device is complete, and it is now undergoing vacuumizing, cooling, and galvanizing experiments. The first plasma discharge is scheduled for august 15.
EAST started overall assembly in 2003, and was developed as an upgrade from HT-7, China’s first superconducting tokamak completed in 1990. The budget for the device was just 300 million yuan ($37 million) — a small fraction of the cost of the multi hundred million dollar price tag of similar devices being developed elsewhere.
If the device succeeds, China will become the first country to build and successfully demonstrate a superconducting tokamak fusion device. The goals for EAST include exploring and demonstrating steady-state operation of a tokamak and generating plasma currents of 1MA. With a capability for pulse times as long as 1,000 seconds, the device will also be used to investigate particle and heat flux handling on a time scale much longer than the wall equilibration time.