How China will eventually put the rest of the world to shame

by | Dec 6, 2010 09:51 AM ET

China has a number of initiatives that, from a U.S. perspective, boggle the mind. One of the most visible is China's high speed trains:

The world's fastest train and longest track are in China

China recently build a 15-story apartment building in just 6 days:

A 15-story apartment building is completed in just 6 days

China builds most of the world's solar panels:

Fun Facts about Solar Panels

While the U.S. neuters NASA, China is surging ahead in space:

China shows space skills with satellite rendezvous

It also could have been practice for docking orbiting vehicles, a skill required to build the space station that China is expected to start work on next year.

And now we learn from Wikileaks that China is doing the research to dominate on the fusion energy front as well:

Viewing cable 10BEIJING263, PRC: NUCLEAR RESEARCH AT CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

In mid-December 2009, the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Hefei, Anhui Province was preparing for another cycle of experiments with its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST). EAST was designed to be a controlled nuclear fusion tokamark reactor with superconductive toroidal and poloidal field magnets and a D-shaped cross-section. One of the experimental goals of this device was to prove that a nuclear fusion reaction can be sustained indefinitely, at high enough temperatures, to produce energy in a cost-effective way. In 2009, IIP successfully maintained a 10 million degree Celsius plasma nuclear fusion reaction for 400 seconds. IIP also successfully maintained a 100 million degree Celsius plasma nuclear fusion reaction for 60 seconds. One of IIP's immediate goals is now to maintain a 100 million degree Celsius plasma nuclear fusion reaction for over 400 seconds. Currently, IIP is also conducting research into hybrid fusion-fission nuclear reactors that may be able to sustain nuclear reactions indefinitely, and at sufficient temperatures, to cost-effectively produce energy. IIP officials stated that China has the explicit goal of building at least 70 nuclear fission power plants within the next 10 years. IIP scientists claimed current Chinese nuclear energy production efforts use Uranium 235, but research is being done to make Uranium 238 a feasible alternative.

Here is a description of Tokamak principles:

China is already investing heavily in traditional nuclear reactors:

Nuclear Boom in China Sees Reactor Builders Risk Their Know-how for Cash

Just 13 nuclear plants operate in China today, and until recently the Chinese were building only one or two reactors a decade. Now they are building 25 facilities, accounting for close to half the reactors under construction worldwide.
“This shows the rapid momentum of China's nuclear power development,” says Zhang Shanming, president of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, the country's No. 2 builder and operator of reactors.
China's energy planners say they aim to have 40 reactors by 2020 and, by 2030, enough additional reactors to generate more power than all 104 reactors in the U.S., the leader in nuclear energy. Westinghouse, Areva, and other foreign companies will profit by licensing their reactor technology, consulting on safety and other issues, supplying components, and helping with construction.

Why are they doing it?

“Developing clean, low-carbon energy is an international priority,” says Zhao Chengkun, vice-president of the China Nuclear Energy Association. “Nuclear is recognized as the only energy source that can be used on a mass scale to achieve this.”

Meanwhile, in the United States...

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