Chinese scientists announced this week that a nuclear fusion reactor in the southeast of the country had achieved a temperature exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius, more than six times those found at the centre of the sun.

But despite the achievements at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, a scientist said it might still be some time before China is able to tap the energy produced by the fusion process.

In a commentary published on Thursday by state news agency Xinhua, Zhang Tiankan poured cold water on Monday’s celebrations, saying that achieving the 100 million degree mark was just a milestone and that scientists still had a long way to go.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome was working out a way to constrain reactions within a restricted space for an extended period, he said.

Another was achieving a sufficiently high plasma density. Only when that was high enough and the plasma temperature exceeded 100 million degrees could a sizeable number of particles with sufficient kinetic energy overcome the repulsion between the nuclei, allowing nuclear fusion reactions to take place, Zhang said.

So much for all the hype. To read more, click here.