The ecological commitment of Greg de Temmerman

Our society is facing an enormous challenge: rapidly transforming an energy infrastructure based on 80% on the combustion of fossil sources. We must therefore turn our backs on a system that has certainly allowed spectacular progress, but also exerted pressure on our environment that it can no longer bear. Energy has enabled us to become “gods” capable of modifying even the climate of our planet! The changes necessary to decrease our grip on the planet while continuing to live happily are enormous and will require a multi-disciplinary approach. It is indeed necessary to combine the physical, chemical, biological sciences but also psychology for example in order to develop a viable but also desirable system – there is undoubtedly no quick fix. Scientists have a huge role to play in this process through their ability to innovate, listen, be honest and challenge themselves.


About Greg de Temmerman

I am a physicist in the field of nuclear fusion, specialist in materials in extreme conditions. The purpose of the fusion is to recreate on Earth the process occurring at the heart of the stars to generate energy on Earth. My research is multidisciplinary, at the interface between materials science, physico-chemistry surface and plasma physics. Fusion is a complex process, requiring to bring a gas to a temperature of 150 million degrees and to confine it in a vacuum enclosure using very strong magnetic fields. The materials are then subjected to extremely high thermal and mechanical stresses. Developing materials that can survive in these conditions is a necessary condition for mastering fusion.

Having obtained a chemical engineering degree, I then completed a thesis in experimental physics at the University of Basel in Switzerland. I then worked in different countries (USA, UK, Netherlands) on topics related to surface modifications by plasma treatment, before joining the ITER project in 2014 as scientific coordinator in charge of interaction studies plasma-walls. I have published over 200 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Passionate about energy issues, I reflect on the questions of temporality and feasibility of a major change in our thermo-industrial society. Being a recognized physicist does not mean being an expert on all scientific subjects, but neither does it prevent you from having interesting things to say on subjects other than your main expertise. I think that scientists, by their seriousness and their analytical capacity, must play an active role in the necessary energy and ecological transition.

Among my hobbies are ultra-trail running and scientific mediation, I participate in popular science events and give numerous public lectures.