The ITER Project: Hydrogen Fusion for the World Energy Supply

re posted from                          EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE REVIEW

This transcript appears in the September 18, 2020 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this transcript]

Dr. Bernard Bigot

The ITER Project:
Hydrogen Fusion for the World Energy Supply

This is the edited transcription of the pre-recorded video which served as Dr. Bernard Bigot’s opening presentation to the Schiller Institute’s conference on September 5. Dr. Bigot is the Director-General of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Subheads have been added.

Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this International Schiller Institute conference. I’m very pleased to introduce you to the ITER project. Its mission is to demonstrate that hydrogen fusion could be an option for the world energy supply in the future.

The ITER site has the various buildings and equipment on their way to being erected and installed. This very large project is governed by 35 participating countries and seven primary partners.

Everybody knows that we are facing a limit for the use of fossil fuels which we have been using now for over 150 years. And the alternative options are limited. We have to rely on some well-known physical phenomena.

Clearly, there are renewable energies, which are quite attractive, but from my point of view, it is a partial solution, because of low power density, coupled with intermittent availability for large population concentrations. The mega cities require massive energy production, which has to be predictable. Nuclear fission is also an option, certainly. But as you know there are drawbacks and limitations, because uranium resources are not infinite.

The Fusion Energy Option

We need to find another solution, another option. We can look at what is happening in the universe. In the universe, the most common way to produce energy is hydrogen fusion as in the Sun and in the stars. The Sun is just a big bubble of hydrogen, 300,000 times the weight of the Earth. And at the center of the Sun, there is a very hot plasma of 15 million degrees (Celsius), a high-density plasma, and the hydrogen fuses and produces energy.

How to does that happen? The compression of the hydrogen nuclei brings them closer and closer, and at a short enough distance, they fuse and produce two new particles: neutrons and helium. They move away and release a lot of energy.

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