Vie humaine et production énergétique. Perspectives ouvertes par la fusion thermonucléaire contrôlée

Dominique Escande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The massive and presently increasing energy production is going to confront mankind with a very important problem in the forthcoming decades, in particular due to the vanishing of resources and to the greenhouse effect. The share of fossile fuels in the energy production will have to decrease, and other energy sources will be needed. Among them controlled thermonuclear fusion has many assets due to its non-radioactive fuel with plentiful supply, its non radioactive and non polluting ashes, its safety, its weak environmental impact, and its irrelevance to nuclear proliferation in a normal setting. During the last three decades, physicists have made a series of steps toward the peaceful use of the dominant source of energy in the Universe. They have learned how to confine by magnetic fields plasmas at temperatures of 200 millions degrees centigrade, and they have developped several specific technologies. This way, they produced 11 million watts of nuclear power by fusing two isotopes of hydrogen. These investigations are conducted in a responsible spirit, that of ecoproduction, where possible negative consequences are anticipated, are made as low as reasonably achievable, and their management is studied. Yet several fundamental issues still have to be solved before an economically efficient industrial thermonuclear power plant be operated. A huge international collaboration involving Japan, the USA, the Russian Federation, and the European Union joined with Switzerland and Canada, is presently designing the first experimental thermonuclear reactor, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). ft would cost 9 billion dollars, a cost similar to other large scientific projects. This is an important step toward an electricity producing thermonuclear reactor that would be both safe and respectful of human health and of environment.
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)525 - 537
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin de l'Academie Nationale de Medecine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)
  • Health(social science)

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