China launches ‘Kuafu’ nuclear fusion research facility, named after mythical giant, in quest to build ‘artificial sun’

A Xinhua report on Monday revealed for the first time the interior of the completed main building of the facility in east China’s Anhui province.

It is formally known as the Comprehensive Research Facility for Fusion Technology (CRAFT) but has been nicknamed “Kuafu” after a mythical figure who attempted to capture the sun.

The report showed some of the facility’s experimental components, including a prototype of one of eight massive orange segment-inspired pieces that come together to form a hollow doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber where the fusion experiments will take place.
china launches kuafu nuclear fusion research facility named after mythical giant in quest to build artificial sun 1
Eight semi-circular pieces will come together, like segments of an orange, to form a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber for fusion experiments. Photo: Xinhua

Also featured in the report was a 700-tonne (771-ton) superconducting magnet used for magnetic confinement fusion.

CRAFT is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, and scientists have already started working on projects at the complex, according to Xinhua.

According to an ancient Chinese fable, the giant Kuafu attempted to chase and capture the sun to end a drought. Though he succumbed to thirst before he could catch it, he is seen as a symbol of bravery.


Nuclear fusion occurs when two lighter nuclei combine and form a heavier single nucleus. This process releases massive amounts of energy, and it is also how our star generates power. As global demand for carbon-free energy grows, fusion could be our way of “capturing the sun”.

Fusion is powered by deuterium and tritium, two hydrogen variants commonly found in the ocean. According to Xinhua, one litre of seawater has enough deuterium to produce fusion energy equivalent to the burning of 300 litres (79 gallons) of petrol.

Fusion does not emit greenhouse gases, instead releasing helium, and the radioactive waste produced can be recycled within a century. It also does not use uranium or plutonium, and there is no risk of a meltdown at a fusion reactor.

CRAFT is part of China’s plan to replicate the power generation of the sun.


The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), a superconducting magnetic fusion energy reactor, uses magnetic fields to confine plasma at very high temperatures. The facility, also in Anhui, has had multiple breakthroughs in the generation of fusion energy.

These breakthroughs are expected to contribute to the operation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France – the world’s largest fusion experiment.


Hu Jiansheng, the deputy director of the Institute of Plasma Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times in 2022 that China had already achieved 80 per cent of the key technology research needed for fusion power. He added that China could have usable fusion energy in 30 to 50 years.

CRAFT is an important stepping stone to working nuclear fusion as it will be used to test key technologies for the Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR), a proposed tokamak device for large-scale power generation expected to be completed around 2035.


South China Morning Post

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