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Histoire de la recherche sur les piles à combustible en France des années soixante aux années quatre-vingt

Abstract : Fuel cells, which operation principle is known since the middle of the 19th century, allow to produce electricy, water and heat simultaneously from fuels and combustives like hydrogen and oxygen. At the end of the 50s, these electrochemical generators are perfected, particularly thanks to the work of Francis T. Bacon in England, and are used in the USA by NASA (Aeronautics and Space Administration) for space programs. In France at the same period, private and public laboratories as Alsthom, the IFP (French Petroleum Institute) and the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) start their own studies under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense and the DGRST (General Commission for for Scientific and Technical Research), a national institution in charge of scientific research policy. Until the beginning of the 80s, millions are thus invested and hundreds of researchers, engineers and technicians are mobilized to improve fuel cells, work on their adaptation to electrical cars, trains, submarines, on the construction of fuel cell power plants or specific military equipments. Now that in France fuel cells are considered as major options for energy transition, the objective of this dissertation paper is to analyze this period of their history thanks to a field investigation based on numerous archives and interviews with stakeholders who contributed to researches. We will first expose socio-historical conditions and structural dynamics which make fuel cells become a theme of national interest at the end of the 50s. We will then show how studies are organized and reoriented in the 60s and 70s according to the evolution of the thought collective and the social network created around fuel cells. Finally we will examine all political, economic, scientific and social reasons which led to drop almost all fuel cell researches in the country at the beginning of the 80s.
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Submitted on : Monday, March 25, 2019 - 12:24:08 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:02:04 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 1:37:02 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-02078419, version 1


Nicolas Simoncini. Histoire de la recherche sur les piles à combustible en France des années soixante aux années quatre-vingt. Histoire, Philosophie et Sociologie des sciences. Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018UBFCA030⟩. ⟨tel-02078419⟩



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