In March this year, some Chinese researchers announced that the nation's HL-2M tokamak - a device designed to replicate nuclear fusion, the same reaction that powers the Sun - would be built before the end of 2019.
With little left until the end of the year, there is still no precise news. It is only known that in November, Duan Xuru, one of the scientists working on the "artificial sun", provided an update, saying that construction was going well and that the device could be operational in 2020. This scientific novelty could make the nuclear fusion a viable energy option on Earth.
If scientists can figure out how to harness the energy produced by nuclear fusion, it could provide an almost unlimited source of clean energy.
For decades, that has made fusion energy a Holy Grail for energy researchers.
The dilemma is that scientists have not yet found a cost-effective way to keep extremely hot plasma confined and stable long enough for fusion to take place.
China's HL-2M tokamak could be the device that finally lives up to that scientific breakthrough - or at least provides the clues needed to overcome it.
"The HL-2M will provide researchers with valuable data on the compatibility of high-throughput fusion plasmas with approaches to more effectively handle heat and depleted particles in the core of the device," said the fusion physicist. James Harrison, who is not involved in the project.
“This is one of the biggest problems facing the development of a commercial fusion reactor,” he continued, “and the results of the HL-2M, as part of the international fusion research community, will influence the design of these reactors. "