A machine built by Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research has set a record by maintaining a plasma at 180 million degrees Fahrenheit for 20 seconds as part of the group's "artificial sun" program, Engadget reported Tuesday quoting Phys.org.

No previous fusion energy machine lasted for more than 10 seconds. KSTAR could only hold out for only eight seconds in a test last year.

At 180 million degrees Fahrenheit, it is the operational limit of normal conducting machines and it proved difficult to maintain a stable plasma in a reactor for a long time. In comparison, the sun's core produces heat of around 15 million degrees Celsius.

Unlocking the full potential of nuclear fusion energy has been an aspiration since the turn of the 20th century.

Nuclear fusion, which works by blending two atomic nuclei into a much bigger nucleus cluster to produce vast amounts of energy, promises to release more energy than it consumes.

To recreate the sun's fusion reactions on Earth hydrogen isotopes are placed in a fusion machine like KSTAR to form a plasma state where electrons are divided and ions must be heated and kept at very high temperatures.

A working fusion reactor will allow scientists to harvest the power of the sun - potentially providing alternatives for growing energy requirements.

"The technologies required for long operations of 100 million-plasma are key to the realization of fusion energy," EurekAlert quoted KSTAR Research Center Director Si-Woo Yoon as saying.

The latest feat is the product of scientists at the Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy in tandem with Columbia University of the U.S. and South Korea's National University.