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China test fires fusion reactor

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China today carried out its first successful test of a fusion reactor, Reuters reports.

Details are vague, but scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Hefei told news agency Xinhua that "deuterium and tritium atoms had been fused together at a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for nearly three seconds".

The team trumpeted their device - called Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) - as "the first of its kind in operation in the world". They didn't, however, disclose whether they'd got more energy out of the reaction than they'd pumped in - obviously critical for a viable commercial reactor.

Apart from its domestic efforts, China is a partner in the €10bn ITER experimental nuclear fusion reactor project, slated to get under way in Cadarache, France, next year.

The EU, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US are also backing "the world's most expensive science experiment", which they hope will "bring the first sustained fusion reactions to produce electricity". ®

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