IEEE

Oral-History:Rene Bidard

SHARE |

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Protected "Rene Bidard Oral History" [edit=sysop:move=sysop])
(12 intermediate revisions by 5 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
== About Rene Bidard<br> ==
+
== About Rene Bidard  ==
  
Rene Bidard developed an interest in radio and electricity as a child in 1920s Paris.&nbsp; Nevertheless, Bidard also elected studies in composition, Latin, philosophy, and mathematics before earning an electricity prize and enrolling at the Université d'Électricité.&nbsp; Bidard gained employment at Compagnie Électro-Mécanique in 1934, became chief engineer in the aftermath of World War II, and worked with the company until its 1983 acquisition by the Alsthom company.&nbsp; Having written a corporate history of CEM, Bidard provides information on its evolution and on the French government's role in industry. Bidard also taught as a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique for twenty-seven years.<br>  
+
<p>[[Image:Rene Bidard 2033.jpg|thumb|left|Rene Bidard]] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Rene Bidard developed an interest in [[Radio|radio]] and electricity as a child in 1920s Paris. Nevertheless, Bidard also elected studies in composition, Latin, philosophy, and mathematics before earning an electricity prize and enrolling at the Université d'Électricité. Bidard gained employment at Compagnie Électro-Mécanique in 1934, became chief engineer in the aftermath of World War II, and worked with the company until its 1983 acquisition by the Alsthom company. Having written a corporate history of CEM, Bidard provides information on its evolution and on the French government's role in industry. Bidard also taught as a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique for twenty-seven years. </p>
  
In this interview, Bidard describes his education and teaching but devotes particular attention to his Compagnie Électro-Mécanique projects.&nbsp; During his early years with CEM, he collaborated with the Brown-Boveri company in Switzerland, developing the Vilox supercharged automatic boiler and attempting to operate it on powdered coal. Bidard then worked on gas turbine development and on the French navy's development of a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines.&nbsp; This work began before World War II, but Bidard, mobilized as a French lieutenant, continued the project in secret during German occupation of France.&nbsp; Bidard then describes the evolution of IRO engine technology, as influenced by World War II.&nbsp; <br>  
+
<p>In this interview, Bidard describes his education and teaching but devotes particular attention to his Compagnie Électro-Mécanique projects. During his early years with CEM, he collaborated with the Brown-Boveri company in Switzerland, developing the Vilox supercharged automatic boiler and attempting to operate it on powdered coal. Bidard then worked on gas turbine development and on the French navy's development of a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines. This work began before World War II, but Bidard, mobilized as a French lieutenant, continued the project in secret during German occupation of France. Bidard then describes the evolution of IRO engine technology, as influenced by World War II. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>As he traces his career progression to chief engineer, Bidard analyzes the corporate structure of CEM, as well as the effects of World War II on French technology and industry. He narrates the turn to magneto-hydrodynamics and the ramjet in response to development challenges. After describing the steps of CEM's acquisition by Alsthom, Bidard describes his work during retirement, including publishing, consulting, and mathematics research. </p>
  
As he traces his career progression to chief engineer, Bidard analyzes the corporate structure of CEM, as well as the effects of World War II on French technology and industry.&nbsp; He narrates the turn to magneto-hydrodynamics and the ramjet in response to development challenges.&nbsp; After describing the steps of CEM's acquisition by Alsthom, Bidard describes his work during retirement, including publishing, consulting, and mathematics research.<br>  
+
<p>In the concluding section of the interview, Bidard provides comments to annotate a list of projects spanning his career. He also provides his thoughts on the roles of theory and technology in driving research, and on the influence of the French government and the European Union on development. </p>
  
<br>
+
== About the Interview  ==
  
In the concluding section of the interview, Bidard provides comments to annotate a list of projects spanning his career.&nbsp; He also provides his thoughts on the roles of theory and technology in driving research, and on the influence of the French government and the European Union on development.
+
<p>Rene Bidard: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, 23 July 1996 </p>
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
+
<p>Interview #295 for The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. </p>
  
Rene Bidard: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, 23 July 1996 <br>
+
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
<br>  
+
<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
Interview #295 for The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., The IEEE History Center, and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
+
<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Rene Bidard, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
<br>
+
== Interview  ==
  
== Copyright Statement<br> ==
+
<p>INTERVIEW: RENE BIDARD </p>
  
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.<br><br>  
+
<p>INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>PLACE: Paris France </p>
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. <br><br>  
+
<p>DATE: JULY 23, 1996 </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Education  ===
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Rene Bidard, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you first got interested in science and engineering. </p>
  
== Interview<br> ==
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
INTERVIEW: RENE BIDARD<br>INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE<br>PLACE: Paris France<br>DATE: JULY 23, 1996
+
<p>Well, as a child I was already interested in wires! As a teen, I made a wireless set, and at that time it only had a crystal. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Education<br> ===
+
<p>Was this in the 1920s? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you first got interested in science and engineering.
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, the 1920s. Later I made a set with electronic bulbs. I was very proud of it. Finally, my big interest was in electricity, so very soon, I wanted to be an engineer. My father was an architect, and my mother was also an architect. I would like to point out that although I was not born in this flat, I have lived here since I was a few months old. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' <br> </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Well, as a child I was already interested in wires! As a teen, I made a wireless set, and at that time it only had a crystal.
+
<p>This same apartment? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That's right. Of course, I have traveled around Europe and elsewhere, but I always have come back here. It's a very old house. It was built before the French Revoluton by the people of the Convent. I decided that I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to go to the École Centrale. I was also interested in composition, and I studied Latin. I took a second baccalaureate in philosophy and mathematics for the same reason, because I was interested in them. At that time, you had to go through two courses on two different years. About 5000 or so students started out, but only 800 passed their first examinations, and only 200 made it to the second year. I worked a lot, of course. This was in the late 1920s, and it was very difficult to find a job. Since I won a prize for electricity, it allowed me to enroll at another school, Université d'Électricité. There was military service in between them. I had an uncle who was a politician, who helped me find a job. He got me a job at the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. And so I have never known any other firm that this one. I went there in 1934. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Was this in the 1920s?
+
=== Compagnie Électro-Mécanique  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So I came to the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique and there I had to deal with electricity, of course. I also had to calculate. I tried to find a better way to calculate using the machines, and I was known in the company for that. Compagnie Électro-Mécanique was an old company, founded in the 1880s I think, and they were intimately connected with Brown-Boveri in Switzerland. We were licensed from Brown-Boveri. We were involved in the development of a supercharged automatic boiler named Vilox. The company sent me to Brown-Boveri in Switzerland to be part of a team there. The aim was to try to make that machine work with powdered coal. It worked only on fuel oil, which was more expensive than coal powder. So that's what I worked on for two years. It was awful! </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes, the 1920s. Later I made a set with electronic bulbs. I was very proud of it. Finally, my big interest was in electricity, so very soon, I wanted to be an engineer. My father was an architect, and my mother was also an architect. I would like to point out that although I was not born in this flat, I have lived here since I was a few months old.
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br> '''Abbate:'''
+
<p>Why? </p>
  
This same apartment?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:'''<br> </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Because of the dirt! And it was dangerous, because we couldn't get that coal burning constantly. It was always exploding and so on! It was supercharged by a gas turbine and a compressor. This compressor was a natural compressor, which had been developed partly by the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. The idea came from a man named Jaques DeBieu, the man with whom I worked all my life, was extrememly brilliant, and he finally became a member of the company. After that, we saw that it was impossible to make such a boiler work well. The idea was to make a gas turbine on the principle. I was sent once more to that place. This brings me to my effort in 1938. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>That's right. Of course, I have traveled around Europe and elsewhere, but I always have come back here. It's a very old house. It was built before the French Revoluton by the people of the Convent. I decided that I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to go to the École Centrale. I was also interested in composition, and I studied Latin. I took a second baccalaureate in philosophy and mathematics for the same reason, because I was interested in them. At that time, you had to go through two courses on two different years. About 5000 or so students started out, but only 800 passed their first examinations, and only 200 made it to the second year. I worked a lot, of course. This was in the late 1920s, and it was very difficult to find a job. Since I won a prize for electricity, it allowed me to enroll at another school, Université d'Électricité. There was military service in between them. I had an uncle who was a politician, who helped me find a job. He got me a job at the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. And so I have never known any other firm that this one. I went there in 1934.
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The Compagnie Électro-Mécanique, was their business to sell generators? </p>
  
=== Compagnie Électro-Mécanique<br> ===
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>So I came to the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique and there I had to deal with electricity, of course. I also had to calculate. I tried to find a better way to calculate using the machines, and I was known in the company for that. Compagnie Électro-Mécanique was an old company, founded in the 1880s I think, and they were intimately connected with Brown-Boveri in Switzerland. We were licensed from Brown-Boveri. We were involved in the development of a supercharged automatic boiler named Vilox. The company sent me to Brown-Boveri in Switzerland to be part of a team there. The aim was to try to make that machine work with powdered coal. It worked only on fuel oil, which was more expensive than coal powder. So that's what I worked on for two years. It was awful!<br>  
+
<p>No. Their business was about the same as G.E. We had about ten factories in France: big turbines, big electric generators, electric motors, little ones, big ones, transformers, breakers, all that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Why?<br>  
+
<p>So you sold to power companies and industry? </p>
  
<br> '''Bidard:'''<br>Because of the dirt! And it was dangerous, because we couldn't get that coal burning constantly. It was always exploding and so on! It was supercharged by a gas turbine and a compressor. This compressor was anatural compressor, which had been developed partly by the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. The idea came from a man named Jaques DeBieu, the man with whom I worked all my life, was extrememly brilliant, and he finally became a member of the company. After that, we saw that it was impossible to make such a boiler work well. The idea was to make a gas turbine on the principle. I was sent once more to that place. This brings me to my effort in 1938.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now, if you are interested, I wrote the story of the CEM. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>The Compagnie Électro-Mécanique, was their business to sell generators?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I noticed that. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>No. Their business was about the same as G.E. We had about ten factories in France: big turbines, big electric generators, electric motors, little ones, big ones, transformers, breakers, all that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Maybe you know that it was written on behalf of -- </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you sold to power companies and industry?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The Association Histoirette </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>&nbsp; Now, if you are interested, I wrote the story of the CEM.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. Then you have that text probably. I have the papers here; all that is for you if you want them. It’s too much, of course, but you can pick anything you want from that. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I noticed that.<br>
+
=== Propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines; WWII  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Maybe you know that it was written on behalf of --<br>  
+
<p>Well, just before the second world war, the French navy was very interested in a secret proposition to make a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines. This was the idea of Georges Davier, who, knowing a lot about aerodynamics, knew very well that when a flow of gas flows around a blade, say, there is a limit, what we call a couche limite, just on the wall, a certain part of the fluid that is stuck to the wall. It has a very small speed, a limit layer. If you can feed that small flow with cold gas, you protect the wall from the heat. The idea was a good one, and we did a lot of work on that, and we were able to prove that effectively with a flow, very limited, say 1 to 1.5 percent or something like that, of the total. With cold gas, you can completely protect the walls, and let the blade itself be at the temperature say of 500 or 550 degrees centigrade. That was the one figure sustainable at that time, with the metals we had. The main flow was at about 800 to 850 degrees, which is very hot. Actually, we were at say 1200 degrees or something. It was in about 1933. I was at that point in Switzerland, and came back to France to take charge of the project, which was a very big one, 10,000 horsepower. It was a big, big thing, and we had very little experience with this. So that was my job, and when the war came, we were very much advanced. We had already built the smaller part, and we were running it at around 850 or more degrees, when the war occurred. I had to go to the front. Between the declared beginning of the war and the actual battle, I’d been mobilized as a lieutenant because, having done all those schools I was prepared to be an officer, you see. But the French navy during that period called me back to work on the project, so that when the disaster came, I was on that job, and we didn’t know what to do. We succeeded in continuing to work without the Germans knowing anything. [laughter]. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>The Association Histoirette <br>  
+
<p>So you were doing this in secret during the Occupation? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes. Then you have that text probably. I have the papers here; all that is for you if you want them. It’s too much, of course, but you can pick anything you want from that. <br>  
+
<p>Yes, it was extremely secret. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines; WWII<br> ===
+
<p>How did you do that? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Well, just before the second world war, the French navy was very interested in a secret proposition to make a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines. This was the idea of Georges Davier, who, knowing a lot about aerodynamics, knew very well that when a flow of gas flows around a blade, say, there is a limit, what we call a couche limite, just on the wall, a certain part of the fluid that is stuck to the wall. It has a very small speed, a limit layer. If you can feed that small flow with cold gas, you protect the wall from the heat. The idea was a good one, and we did a lot of work on that, and we were able to prove that effectively with a flow, very limited, say 1 to 1.5 percent or something like that, of the total. With cold gas, you can completely protect the walls, and let the blade itself be at the temperature say of 500 or 550 degrees centigrade. That was the one figure sustainable at that time, with the metals we had. The main flow was at about 800 to 850 degrees, which is very hot. Actually, we were at say 1200 degrees or something. It was in about 1933. I was at that point in Switzerland, and came back to France to take charge of the project, which was a very big one, 10,000 horsepower. It was a big, big thing, and we had very little experience with this. So that was my job, and when the war came, we were very much advanced. We had already built the smaller part, and we were running it at around 850 or more degrees, when the war occurred. I had to go to the front. Between the declared beginning of the war and the actual battle, I’d been mobilized as a lieutenant because, having done all those schools I was prepared to be an officer, you see. But the French navy during that period called me back to work on the project, so that when the disaster came, I was on that job, and we didn’t know what to do. We succeeded in continuing to work without the Germans knowing anything. [laughter].<br>  
+
<p>Well, it was a bit dangerous, of course. This was aimed at very speedy boats, of course. After the war, the navy hadn’t much interest in very high speeds for the boats because they had airplanes on board, and you didn’t need high speed boats any more. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== IRO engines; WWII airplanes  ===
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you were doing this in secret during the Occupation?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But I must tell you something else. When I had come to the CEM in 1934, it was still possible to supercharge diesel engines with gas turbines and compressors, because with the diesel engines, the exhaust is only 550 degrees centigrade. It was possible to run it at that temperature. But not the IRO engines, which were of course piston engines at that time, because the exhaust of those engines is at about 800 degrees centigrade. The idea was to apply the technique to that special case, which was extremely interesting. I was not in that development, but it is interesting to tell you that just before the war, we were able to supercharge an IRO engine, a piston engine, at that temperature. The government had helped us to build a big test device, and we had to feed the compressor at the entry, at minus 50 Centigrade, which is the temperature at 10,000 meters up, and it was of course a bit difficult to do. [laughter] The machine was running at something like 10,000 rpm. The compressor was a centrifugal compressor, of course, and at minus 50 centigrade and with a turbine at plus 800 degrees there. 800 degrees is white hot. At minus 50, the compressor was completely under ice.. So finally the government said, "Now you will build a factory to make that big series." We did it; the factory was running in 1939, and the first war machine came out of it about three months after that. When the war was in maximum force, there was probably one French airplane still flying, but that one was at 10,000 meters, and the German planes couldn’t go that high. It was maybe five or six months, because you also needed to let the pilots know the plane, learn how to fly so high, and so on. You needed a bit of time, but it was a question of six months probably. If that had been made six months earlier, probably, the war would have gone quite differently, because of the necessity to protect the tanks. You see, they had many airplanes protecting their tanks... </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes, it was extremely secret.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The Germans. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>How did you do that?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>...against ours, but our planes could have been so high that they could first destroy the German planes, and then the tanks. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Well, it was a bit dangerous, of course. This was aimed at very speedy boats, of course. After the war, the navy hadn’t much interest in very high speeds for the boats because they had airplanes on board, and you didn’t need high speed boats any more. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That one airplane that was flying, what did they use it for? </p>
  
=== IRO engines; WWII airplanes<br> ===
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>  
+
<p>Oh, it was just a trial, yes. No, as a matter of fact probably there had been a little more than that. But it wasn’t effective, you know. No pilot was able to know how to manage with such things. Well, this is the story. [laughter] Now should we go on? </p>
  
But I must tell you something else. When I had come to the CEM in 1934, it was still possible to supercharge diesel engines with gas turbines and compressors, because with the diesel engines, the exhaust is only 550 degrees centigrade. It was possible to run it at that temperature. But not the IRO engines, which were of course piston engines at that time, because the exhaust of those engines is at about 800 degrees centigrade. The idea was to apply the technique to that special case, which was extremely interesting. I was not in that development, but it is interesting to tell you that just before the war, we were able to supercharge an IRO engine, a piston engine, at that temperature. The government had helped us to build a big test device, and we had to feed the compressor at the entry, at minus 50 Centigrade, which is the temperature at 10,000 meters up, and it was of course a bit difficult to do. [laughter] The machine was running at something like 10,000 rpm. The compressor was a centrifugal compressor, of course, and at minus 50 centigrade and with a turbine at plus 800 degrees there. 800 degrees is white hot. At minus 50, the compressor was completely under ice.. So finally the government said, "Now you will build a factory to make that big series." We did it; the factory was running in 1939, and the first war machine came out of it about three months after that. When the war was in maximum force, there was probably one French airplane still flying, but that one was at 10,000 meters, and the German planes couldn’t go that high. It was maybe five or six months, because you also needed to let the pilots know the plane, learn how to fly so high, and so on. You needed a bit of time, but it was a question of six months probably. If that had been made six months earlier, probably, the war would have gone quite differently, because of the necessity to protect the tanks. You see, they had many airplanes protecting their tanks...<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Sure. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>The Germans.<br>
+
=== Chief engineer appointment; CEM corporate structure  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>...against ours, but our planes could have been so high that they could first destroy the German planes, and then the tanks.<br>  
+
<p>We were just after the war, then. It’s at that moment that I became chief engineer for the whole company. That is, I had to deal with the whole technique. I count about thirty different techniques we had. Many small companies were connected with us. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>That one airplane that was flying, what did they use it for?<br>  
+
<p>How big was the company? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Oh, it was just a trial, yes. No, as a matter of fact probably there had been a little more than that. But it wasn’t effective, you know. No pilot was able to know how to manage with such things. Well, this is the story. [laughter] Now should we go on?<br>  
+
<p>At that moment it was only 5000 people. Finally we came to 11,000; that was the biggest. It’s like that in France. You see, if you are that big you must have many different technical employees. You are still small compared to what happens in the States, of course. Just after the war, there was a big problem. We in France and in all Europe, had been able to make no progress during the previous five or six wartime years. In the States, things had been moving very quickly. We needed to go to the States and learn all about their progress, and they said, "Now you must go on and progress too." So that has been my job for years and years; I went to the States several times to see things, especially in électrotechnique. We had to make progress in transformers, to make progress in breakers, to make progress in generators, and so on. And we did it. But I was finally quite interested in thermal dynamics, and aerodynamics too. I told Monsieur Davier I had to work a lot on electricity. I had to work on thermodynamics, and to fulfill the needs of the company we both made the thing, you see? A good part of my original work has been on aerodynamics and thermodynamics. I must tell you another thing. After the war, doing the work I told you about, research on mass turbines, we were in France the only ones able to make a jet for the airplanes. During the war, the Germans had a jet, not a very good one, and the English people had some. In France we had two aerial engine makers. We told the government that we were able to make a jet, so they said, "Why not?" [laughter] Finally we built nine prototypes of a jet. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Sure.<br>  
+
<p>And this is in the mid-1940s? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
=== Chief engineer appointment; CEM corporate structure<br> ===
+
<p>It was later. It was the late 1940s. After the war, of course. Those prototypes worked very well. Extremely well. So they asked me to be a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique. I said, "Why not?" [laughter] I like to have contact with young people, and so on. Also it’s very interesting, because it obliges you to think about things very acutely if you have to present things to students. So I said yes, and it was 1946. But after a while, the French government saw that there were three factories now: the Rolls Royce; the Hispano, that we must support with the Rolls Royce license; and the CEM, which was nationalized, and became SNEGMA. That is a really well-known firm, and it took a number of German engineers who had worked on their jet, and we were the only French ones, you see. So the government said, "We cannot support three different techniques, so you have to marry one of the two others." Well, it was a bit difficult, because we couldn’t join a nationalized firm, so we only had the choice of Rolls Royce, which was not nationalized, and we had conversations. We were fiancées, if you like, but not really married, because it was extremely difficult on questions of patents. Industrial property. It was extremely difficult to settle. Finally, the French government said, "You are not really married." Finally we said no. And all was done. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>We were just after the war, then. It’s at that moment that I became chief engineer for the whole company. That is, I had to deal with the whole technique. I count about thirty different techniques we had. Many small companies were connected with us.<br>
+
=== École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>How big was the company?<br>  
+
<p>I was a professor at the Super-Aero, and I continued to teach jet engines at Super-Aero for 27 years. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>At that moment it was only 5000 people. Finally we came to 11,000; that was the biggest. It’s like that in France. You see, if you are that big you must have many different technical employees. You are still small compared to what happens in the States, of course. Just after the war, there was a big problem. We in France and in all Europe, had been able to make no progress during the previous five or six wartime years. In the States, things had been moving very quickly. We needed to go to the States and learn all about their progress, and they said, "Now you must go on and progress too." So that has been my job for years and years; I went to the States several times to see things, especially in électrotechnique. We had to make progress in transformers, to make progress in breakers, to make progress in generators, and so on. And we did it. But I was finally quite interested in thermal dynamics, and aerodynamics too. I told Monsieur Davier I had to work a lot on electricity. I had to work on thermodynamics, and to fulfill the needs of the company we both made the thing, you see? A good part of my original work has been on aerodynamics and thermodynamics. I must tell you another thing. After the war, doing the work I told you about, research on mass turbines, we were in France the only ones able to make a jet for the airplanes. During the war, the Germans had a jet, not a very good one, and the English people had some. In France we had two aerial engine makers. We told the government that we were able to make a jet, so they said, "Why not?" [laughter] Finally we built nine prototypes of a jet.<br>  
+
<p>So you were teaching and also working at CEM at the same time? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>And this is in the mid-1940s?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, yes. It was a big job. But it interested me, and of course I had to publish a book, and so on, you see. Of course I was very often helped. We had eight professors. And finally the school was very happy to have someone who wasn’t tied to that job, because I could see things without any connections too tight with anyone, yes. Finally I quit the job in 1972, I think, when the school had to move to Toulouse. It was really too far. Mr. Davier worked a lot on the electricity, and me especially on thermodynamics, probably because I was professing at Super-Aero. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Challenges in turbine development; stability and dimensions  ===
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>It was later. It was the late 1940s. After the war, of course. Those prototypes worked very well. Extremely well. So they asked me to be a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique. I said, "Why not?" [laughter] I like to have contact with young people, and so on. Also it’s very interesting, because it obliges you to think about things very acutely if you have to present things to students. So I said yes, and it was 1946. But after a while, the French government saw that there were three factories now: the Rolls Royce; the Hispano, that we must support with the Rolls Royce license; and the CEM, which was nationalized, and became SNEGMA. That is a really well-known firm, and it took a number of German engineers who had worked on their jet, and we were the only French ones, you see. So the government said, "We cannot support three different techniques, so you have to marry one of the two others." Well, it was a bit difficult, because we couldn’t join a nationalized firm, so we only had the choice of Rolls Royce, which was not nationalized, and we had conversations. We were fiancées, if you like, but not really married, because it was extremely difficult on questions of patents. Industrial property. It was extremely difficult to settle. Finally, the French government said, "You are not really married." Finally we said no. And all was done. <br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
=== École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique<br> ===
+
<p>Because of the steam turbines at the CEM, we were faced with a big problem, which was the dimensions of those machines. They doubled each seven years; it was really awful. We had to think a lot about ways to reduce those dimensions and try to find another fluid than steam, and try to develop the condition turbines, and so on. During that time the CEM made big progresses in electricity too, under my supervision. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>  
+
<p>We dealt with the question of the big turbo generators, and magnetic controls, speed controls and all that, and we had to deal with the stability of the whole net, to try to make that control much more speedy, and so on. I had to deal with all that -- not personally, but I worked with M. Davier, who had very good ideas. He presented these ideas at a CIGRE meeting. Those big turbo generators had the small machines inside for the excitation, the magnetic flux. It was a direct current, a little generator, inside, that we called the excitatrice. As a matter of fact, it was on the same shaft. This excitatrice had to deal with the machine variation. When you have an incident on the net, and the machines have to maintain the voltage, then you must react very, very quickly. He had very good ideas on that. What was finally developed by the CEM was what we call the series excitation. It was a series excitation of the excitator, or the excitatrice. This little direct current machine was excited by series excitation, and it was a very good solution for that. Actually we do that with electronics. But that one was made with a turning machine. Well, he had other ideas on that question, but it’s a bit difficult to explain. [laughter] We also progressed on transformers, developing special techniques -- </p>
  
I was a professor at the Super-Aero, and I continued to teach jet engines at Super-Aero for 27 years.<br> <br>  
+
<p>[End of tape one, side one.] </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you were teaching and also working at CEM at the same time?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Finally, the problem was really that the state wasn’t satisfactory, owing to the big dimensions of those machines, and the difficulty of constructing them and so on. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes, yes. It was a big job. But it interested me, and of course I had to publish a book, and so on, you see. Of course I was very often helped. We had eight professors. And finally the school was very happy to have someone who wasn’t tied to that job, because I could see things without any connections too tight with anyone, yes. Finally I quit the job in 1972, I think, when the school had to move to Toulouse. It was really too far. Mr. Davier worked a lot on the electricity, and me especially on thermodynamics, probably because I was professing at Super-Aero. <br>
+
=== Magneto-hydrodynamics, ramjet technology  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
=== Challenges in turbine development; stability and dimensions<br> ===
+
<p>So I had to think about another solution, and at that moment, many people thought that the MHD was something interesting. You’ve heard of that, the MHD? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Because of the steam turbines at the CEM, we were faced with a big problem, which was the dimensions of those machines. They doubled each seven years; it was really awful. We had to think a lot about ways to reduce those dimensions and try to find another fluid than steam, and try to develop the condition turbines, and so on. During that time the CEM made big progresses in electricity too, under my supervision.  
+
<p>Only from you. [laughter] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>We dealt with the question of the big turbo generators, and magnetic controls, speed controls and all that, and we had to deal with the stability of the whole net, to try to make that control much more speedy, and so on. I had to deal with all that -- not personally, but I worked with M. Davier, who had very good ideas. He presented these ideas at a CIGRE meeting. Those big turbo generators had the small machines inside for the excitation, the magnetic flux. It was a direct current, a little generator, inside, that we called the excitatrice. As a matter of fact, it was on the same shaft. This excitatrice had to deal with the machine variation. When you have an incident on the net, and the machines have to maintain the voltage, then you must react very, very quickly. He had very good ideas on that. What was finally developed by the CEM was what we call the series excitation. It was a series excitation of the excitator, or the excitatrice. This little direct current machine was excited by series excitation, and it was a very good solution for that. Actually we do that with electronics. But that one was made with a turning machine. Well, he had other ideas on that question, but it’s a bit difficult to explain. [laughter] We also progressed on transformers, developing special techniques --
+
<p>Magneto-hydrodynamics. Yes. It’s very badly named, because, finally, it wasn’t at all a liquid, but a gas. It should have been named magneto-gasodynamics. [laughter] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And what is that? MHD? </p>
  
End of tape one, side one.
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>295 - bidard - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>MHD? It's an electric generator which doesn’t need any rotating parts. It was known for a long, long time, because even Lord Kelvin had made tests on that idea. When a liquid flows, a liquid that is electrically conducting, it flows through a magnetic flux. It generates a voltage at a right angle, and it can then produce a electric current, that is electric energy, by the speed of the flow. So if you have a gas conducting, you may do that, and the gas may be conducting when it is ionized. At a very high temperature. Many people -- in Russia, in the United States, in Germany, everywhere -- were working on that solution, but the only thing is that you need a very high temperature to ionize the gases. The idea was to have a combustion at very high temperatures. You must first compress air and fuel, just like as in an engine, compress it, have the condition with an ionized gas, let them pass through a magnetic field, extract the electrical energy that way, and let it go. There are no rotating parts. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br> <br>Finally, the problem was really that the state wasn’t satisfactory, owing to the big dimensions of those machines, and the difficulty of constructing them and so on. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Magneto-hydrodynamics, ramjet technology<br> ===
+
<p>And what’s the advantage of that? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
So I had to think about another solution, and at that moment, many people thought that the MHD was something interesting. You’ve heard of that, the MHD?<br>  
+
<p>To minimize the rotating parts. That was an enormous advantage. Also, eventually, you can hope for better efficiency. The higher the temperature, the better the efficiency. That’s all, but those very high temperatures are awful, awful. You cannot stay with it, especially with the impurities of the fuel. They spent a lot of money on that; this was about thirty years ago. Finally, it was always the same problem. They continued in Russia, and also in the United States. But, being aware of those difficulties, I said, "You must find something else." Now I was obliged to come up with something. [laughter] Being a professor at Super-Aero, I had to deal with all the means of jet propulsion. There is a solution to it; you see it’s a ramjet. You’ve heard of that? The ramjet is a sort of tube with no rotating parts. You have an entry, it works at very high speed, you let the air go in, and you expand the surface. That is, you oblige the fluid to slow up, and so the pressure goes up by kinetic energy. Then when you have a sufficient pressure you let the fuel go into the fire, then you expand it at the exit, and that’s all. The fluid goes out at a speed higher than it went in, because of the expansion, the higher temperature, and so on. You get a push, a propulsion. Then I was working for the French navy, and I said, "We know very well that propellers in the water cannot go above a certain speed because of many reasons." You get phenomena, very tricky, and these limit the propeller speed. I said to myself, "Well, why not try to find a ramjet for the propulsions of boats, inside water instead of air?" Then the idea was to evaporate the water, get steam, bubbles and so on, and they expand. But this is extremely costly, because you need 600 calories for each gram of water you... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Only from you. [laughter]<br>  
+
<p>You want to boil. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Yes. I said, "But why not have a compressor on board, compress air, make bubbles inside the water, and let that expand it? If it behaves like a homogenous fluid, it’s all right; it becomes elastic. It can expand with the bubbles being in the water." So I spoke of that to the French navy, and they said to proceed. So we made tests on things like that, and it worked. We even made a one-ton push device. It didn’t go farther because of the same reason I have said before: they didn’t need the speedy boats anymore. But I knew from those tests that such a foam made by injecting the bubbles, behaves really like a homogenous fluid; it expands very well, and so on, and with a very good efficiency. I knew that. So we come back now to the MHD. I said, "Maybe instead of going to 3000 degrees to ionize the gas, we’ll stay under, but higher than the normal temperature of the steam in the turbine, which is about 600 degrees centigrade. Maybe about 1000 degrees; why not? No rotating parts in a ramjet. We will make a fluid that will be electrically conducting and also expandable. Injecting a gas. Let’s say we’ve chosen argon, but it could be also helium, or things that are chemically very neutral, and in a liquid metal that is electrically conducting. I can make a sort of ram generator with only a duct. The Électricité de France has been very interested in that, and we have applied it to lots of things today -- this ramjet technology we developed for the navy. We knew a lot of things. With the help of the Électricité de France, we built a test bed. We knew that there would be a lot of problems on the flow of those foams, and you must make tests before and not necessarily at 1000 degrees. You can work lower, and learn a lot of things without going so high. It’s what we’ve done. Also, you are not obliged at first to try that under magnetic flux. The first trials we made only with water and air. [laughter] To see how it worked. And it worked very well. So we built a big magnet, and we chose liquid sodium as a liquid metal, because the liquid sodium had been well-employed already, with rapid nuclear generators. At high temperatures they utilized this liquid sodium, at the CEM, so we had the whole knowledge on liquid sodium. We had made electricity that way, and of course the idea was not to burn any fuel in that device to get the high temperature. It must work with nuclear energy, of course. Because later the fossil fuels will be probably depleted inside the earth, so then you can only rely on atomic energy. You need high temperatures, because if you have the same temperature that the steam is, the results are of no interest. So you need 1000 degrees generated in a nuclear generator. We made a government venture with General Dynamics in San Diego. </p>
  
Magneto-hydrodynamics. Yes. It’s very badly named, because, finally, it wasn’t at all a liquid, but a gas. It should have been named magneto-gasodynamics. [laughter] <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To build MHD generators? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>And what is that? MHD?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To let them do it, because they were developing high temperature nuclear generators, to be able to employ their generator as the primary energy furnisher. At that moment they said they were absolutely able to make that generator, at first 800 degrees. But it happened that they had many difficulties. It has been cut down; it was about twenty years ago. But still I am sure that one day we’ll build such devices, because the liquid metals are needed, especially for the fusion reactor. You know that there is a big incentive in going not to fission, but to fusion, and those fusion generators need liquid metals. If they have liquid metals, the best way is to extract the energy by using that way, you see. It will probably come back. That’s the story of the MHD. [laughter] </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
=== Governmental intervention in CEM; Alsthom  ===
  
MHD? It's an electric generator which doesn’t need any rotating parts. It was known for a long, long time, because even Lord Kelvin had made tests on that idea. When a liquid flows, a liquid that is electrically conducting, it flows through a magnetic flux. It generates a voltage at a right angle, and it can then produce a electric current, that is electric energy, by the speed of the flow. So if you have a gas conducting, you may do that, and the gas may be conducting when it is ionized. At a very high temperature. Many people -- in Russia, in the United States, in Germany, everywhere -- were working on that solution, but the only thing is that you need a very high temperature to ionize the gases. The idea was to have a combustion at very high temperatures. You must first compress air and fuel, just like as in an engine, compress it, have the condition with an ionized gas, let them pass through a magnetic field, extract the electrical energy that way, and let it go. There are no rotating parts.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, what ever happened to CEM? You said they’re no longer... </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>And what’s the advantage of that?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>CEM. It was an awful thing. And it was the French government. At that time it was under the presidency of... I guess it was Giscard d’Estaing. It was right-wing politics. They felt that CEM's position inside French industry wasn’t very adequate, because they had to support [unintelligible], It must also be said that the fact that we were working with the Swiss was a disadvantage. But I think that more important was that in England, they had merged all the electricity companies for big machines into one. I speak only of big machines -- big generators, turbines, and so on. Also in Germany they made a fusion between AEG and Siemens. So in the future Europe, the competitors were big organizations, but in France they were still dispersed. They said then, "We must eliminate one, the one who has the largest part of the capital interest. CEM, you must sell your big machines part to Alsthom." </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
To minimize the rotating parts. That was an enormous advantage. Also, eventually, you can hope for better efficiency. The higher the temperature, the better the efficiency. That’s all, but those very high temperatures are awful, awful. You cannot stay with it, especially with the impurities of the fuel. They spent a lot of money on that; this was about thirty years ago. Finally, it was always the same problem. They continued in Russia, and also in the United States. But, being aware of those difficulties, I said, "You must find something else." Now I was obliged to come up with something. [laughter] Being a professor at Super-Aero, I had to deal with all the means of jet propulsion. There is a solution to it; you see it’s a ramjet. You’ve heard of that? The ramjet is a sort of tube with no rotating parts. You have an entry, it works at very high speed, you let the air go in, and you expand the surface. That is, you oblige the fluid to slow up, and so the pressure goes up by kinetic energy. Then when you have a sufficient pressure you let the fuel go into the fire, then you expand it at the exit, and that’s all. The fluid goes out at a speed higher than it went in, because of the expansion, the higher temperature, and so on. You get a push, a propulsion. Then I was working for the French navy, and I said, "We know very well that propellers in the water cannot go above a certain speed because of many reasons." You get phenomena, very tricky, and these limit the propeller speed. I said to myself, "Well, why not try to find a ramjet for the propulsions of boats, inside water instead of air?" Then the idea was to evaporate the water, get steam, bubbles and so on, and they expand. But this is extremely costly, because you need 600 calories for each gram of water you...<br>  
+
<p>To who? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You want to boil.<br>  
+
<p>Alsthom. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It’s a big company that is like GE. It was one of the biggest competitors in France. We said, "That’s our right arm. If you cut off our right arm we cannot live." We had three big departments, one for the big machines, one for the small ones, and another one for the utilities and so on. We said, "Buy the whole company if you want." "Oh no, we want the right arm." And they said, "Well if this is so, we will tell the Électricité de France that they must not buy any big machines from CEM." That’s what they did. We had big orders, so we tried to live that way. We even tried to earn the same number of francs, selling equipment all over the world. But finally we couldn’t survive that way, and we had major money losses during the last few years. Then finally the whole company sold its right arm to Alsthom. But of course we could not live that way, and some years later, the buildings and machines were sold off, and Alsthom bought the totality. But in between, I must mention, politics went the other way, to the left, during Francois Mitterand's presidency, and Mitterand just let the thing go on the same way. So the Compagnie Electromechanique disappeared. But I personally wasn’t sold to Alsthom. I stayed with what was left of the company the first time, and I was retired when the company disappeared. That’s my part of the story. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Yes. I said, "But why not have a compressor on board, compress air, make bubbles inside the water, and let that expand it? If it behaves like a homogenous fluid, it’s all right; it becomes elastic. It can expand with the bubbles being in the water." So I spoke of that to the French navy, and they said to proceed. So we made tests on things like that, and it worked. We even made a one-ton push device. It didn’t go farther because of the same reason I have said before: they didn’t need the speedy boats anymore. But I knew from those tests that such a foam made by injecting the bubbles, behaves really like a homogenous fluid; it expands very well, and so on, and with a very good efficiency. I knew that. So we come back now to the MHD. I said, "Maybe instead of going to 3000 degrees to ionize the gas, we’ll stay under, but higher than the normal temperature of the steam in the turbine, which is about 600 degrees centigrade. Maybe about 1000 degrees; why not? No rotating parts in a ramjet. We will make a fluid that will be electrically conducting and also expandable. Injecting a gas. Let’s say we’ve chosen argon, but it could be also helium, or things that are chemically very neutral, and in a liquid metal that is electrically conducting. I can make a sort of ram generator with only a duct. The Électricité de France has been very interested in that, and we have applied it to lots of things today -- this ramjet technology we developed for the navy. We knew a lot of things. With the help of the Électricité de France, we built a test bed. We knew that there would be a lot of problems on the flow of those foams, and you must make tests before and not necessarily at 1000 degrees. You can work lower, and learn a lot of things without going so high. It’s what we’ve done. Also, you are not obliged at first to try that under magnetic flux. The first trials we made only with water and air. [laughter] To see how it worked. And it worked very well. So we built a big magnet, and we chose liquid sodium as a liquid metal, because the liquid sodium had been well-employed already, with rapid nuclear generators. At high temperatures they utilized this liquid sodium, at the CEM, so we had the whole knowledge on liquid sodium. We had made electricity that way, and of course the idea was not to burn any fuel in that device to get the high temperature. It must work with nuclear energy, of course. Because later the fossil fuels will be probably depleted inside the earth, so then you can only rely on atomic energy. You need high temperatures, because if you have the same temperature that the steam is, the results are of no interest. So you need 1000 degrees generated in a nuclear generator. We made a government venture with General Dynamics in San Diego.<br>  
+
<p>That’s too bad. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>To build MHD generators?<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Publications  ===
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
To let them do it, because they were developing high temperature nuclear generators, to be able to employ their generator as the primary energy furnisher. At that moment they said they were absolutely able to make that generator, at first 800 degrees. But it happened that they had many difficulties. It has been cut down; it was about twenty years ago. But still I am sure that one day we’ll build such devices, because the liquid metals are needed, especially for the fusion reactor. You know that there is a big incentive in going not to fission, but to fusion, and those fusion generators need liquid metals. If they have liquid metals, the best way is to extract the energy by using that way, you see. It will probably come back. That’s the story of the MHD. [laughter]<br>  
+
<p>But you did things since your retirement, right? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
=== Governmental intervention in CEM; Alsthom<br> ===
+
<p>Now, I propose that maybe we look at those papers I published. Actually, you haven’t got the list of publications? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So, what ever happened to CEM? You said they’re no longer...<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I do have the list. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
CEM. It was an awful thing. And it was the French government. At that time it was under the presidency of... I guess it was Giscard d’Estaing. It was right-wing politics. They felt that CEM's position inside French industry wasn’t very adequate, because they had to support [unintelligible], It must also be said that the fact that we were working with the Swiss was a disadvantage. But I think that more important was that in England, they had merged all the electricity companies for big machines into one. I speak only of big machines -- big generators, turbines, and so on. Also in Germany they made a fusion between AEG and Siemens. So in the future Europe, the competitors were big organizations, but in France they were still dispersed. They said then, "We must eliminate one, the one who has the largest part of the capital interest. CEM, you must sell your big machines part to Alsthom."<br>  
+
<p>You have it. Yes, good. Well, that is probably not exactly the last one. On your copy, number 105 is the last one. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>To who?<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Alsthom. <br>  
+
<p>That’s it. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
It’s a big company that is like GE. It was one of the biggest competitors in France. We said, "That’s our right arm. If you cut off our right arm we cannot live." We had three big departments, one for the big machines, one for the small ones, and another one for the utilities and so on. We said, "Buy the whole company if you want." "Oh no, we want the right arm." And they said, "Well if this is so, we will tell the Électricité de France that they must not buy any big machines from CEM." That’s what they did. We had big orders, so we tried to live that way. We even tried to earn the same number of francs, selling equipment all over the world. But finally we couldn’t survive that way, and we had major money losses during the last few years. Then finally the whole company sold its right arm to Alsthom. But of course we could not live that way, and some years later, the buildings and machines were sold off, and Alsthom bought the totality. But in between, I must mention, politics went the other way, to the left, during Francois Mitterand's presidency, and Mitterand just let the thing go on the same way. So the Compagnie Electromechanique disappeared. But I personally wasn’t sold to Alsthom. I stayed with what was left of the company the first time, and I was retired when the company disappeared. That’s my part of the story. <br>  
+
<p>I’ve got that. I see in here a history of the company. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>That’s too bad.<br>  
+
<p>Oh, I see it’s not complete. The last is 108 or 109, something like that. Well, I will complete it. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes. <br>  
+
<p>Oh, you’ve got a more recent one. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
=== Publications<br> ===
+
<p>But of course it’s not very technical. This is technical --108. "Moteur Thermique ou Moteur Chimique." Note the critique. I was completely shocked by an article that appeared in the review journal ''Entropie'', and I had to answer. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>But you did things since your retirement, right? <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Is this thermo versus chemical motors? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Now, I propose that maybe we look at those papers I published. Actually, you haven’t got the list of publications?<br>  
+
<p>Yes. And this was last year. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I do have the list.<br>  
+
<p>It seems like you’ve been quite active since your retirement from CEM. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Yes, I am active. </p>
  
You have it. Yes, good. Well, that is probably not exactly the last one. On your copy, number 105 is the last one.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, do you just do this on your own or are you affiliated with a university or a company or something? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I’m part of many, many little groups for the French language, mathematics, and also for many reviews. They ask me sometimes to give advice and so on. I’m quite active, yes. [laughter] </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
=== Consulting work; mathematics interests  ===
  
That’s it. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You’re a consultant. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>I’ve got that. I see in here a history of the company.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>If you like, yes. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Oh, I see it’s not complete. The last is 108 or 109, something like that. Well, I will complete it.<br>  
+
<p>What are some of the things you’re doing now? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, you’ve got a more recent one.<br>  
+
<p>Other things? Well, you see, for instance, I discovered my main interest. In the regular numeral system, the base is ten, but in computer techniques you employ the base two. I said, "Well, why two? They say it’s the best one, but it all has to be proved." Mathematically, I’ve found that it wasn’t two. Yes. It’s very strange. Mathematically, you find that the best is E. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>E, the natural number. </p>
  
But of course it’s not very technical. This is technical --108. "Moteur Thermique ou Moteur Chimique." Note the critique. I was completely shocked by an article that appeared in the review journal ''Entropie'', and I had to answer.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The number E -- 2.718. But it’s not a plain number, so it doesn’t work as a base. The closest whole number is 3. Finally, you find that you can gain seven percent of the cases, in the matrix, you need for.... </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Is this thermo versus chemical motors?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How did you get interested in that? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Yes. And this was last year.<br>  
+
<p>Well, I don’t know. I am part of a group called Cercle Pierre de Leuniége, where a number of engineers who are keen on mathematics try to speak about various mathematic issues. Every two months we have a meeting, where someone has to discuss something, and I discussed that. I will give you this list of publications because it’s complete. You can have any one, and many of them are here prepared for you, so I can give you whatever you want. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>It seems like you’ve been quite active since your retirement from CEM.<br>  
+
<p>All right. I can look at this afterwards. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Description of projects and publications  ===
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Yes, I am active.<br>  
+
<p>Shall we go through the list from the beginning? That’s it, there. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So, do you just do this on your own or are you affiliated with a university or a company or something?<br>  
+
<p>This is number 1 on your list. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Number 1, yes. It’s very old. </p>
  
I’m part of many, many little groups for the French language, mathematics, and also for many reviews. They ask me sometimes to give advice and so on. I’m quite active, yes. [laughter]<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This is a word I don’t know. </p>
  
=== Consulting work; mathematics interests<br> ===
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You’re a consultant.<br>  
+
<p>This is a row of blades for a rotating machine; a steam turbine has blades. Those blades are fixed that way, you see? That way, when you cut, see? The machine rotates that way, the axis is that way, and the blades make a rotating one that way, and a non-rotating one the other way. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>If you like, yes.<br>  
+
<p>So you figured out the best aerodynamics for these? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What are some of the things you’re doing now?<br>  
+
<p>Yes, and you may study the row of blades without looking at if it rotates or not. The work is to deviate. I found that such a device, a non-rotating row of blades, had properties in itself, and if I employ non-dimensional factors, and put in two factors that are linked to the mass flow and to the deviation, but without dimensions, there is a representative point that may displace itself when you vary the flow. I demonstrated that theoretically when you employ those non-dimensional factors, the representative point theoretically displaces it along a straight line. That’s it. That’s very useful because if you know one point or two points of that line, you know the whole thing. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>The whole thing. </p>
  
Other things? Well, you see, for instance, I discovered my main interest. In the regular numeral system, the base is ten, but in computer techniques you employ the base two. I said, "Well, why two? They say it’s the best one, but it all has to be proved." Mathematically, I’ve found that it wasn’t two. Yes. It’s very strange. Mathematically, you find that the best is E.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. That was really a finding, and so was this one. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>E, the natural number.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Number 3. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
The number E -- 2.718. But it’s not a plain number, so it doesn’t work as a base. The closest whole number is 3. Finally, you find that you can gain seven percent of the cases, in the matrix, you need for....<br>  
+
<p>Number 3, yes. Because at that time, 1946, when I found that area, it was very difficult to know when a compressor was overcharged or not. How could you explain that? When you have a compressor, of air, say, and it is running, it has a certain flow, a certain pressure at the exit. If you make that pressure grow by a diminishing a section of the exit, at a certain moment the compressors refuse to work. But it wasn’t really understood how, why, and so on, you see? People said this became a receptor, the representation of the pressure against the flow. The flow is that way, and the pressure is that way. When you diminish the flow, the pressure goes up. People said that when the receptor is that way, you cannot explain why, because it wouldn’t arrive that way. I finally made the calculations and found that you had to take care of the mass... the accelerations in there, and all that. It is a dynamic process, not a static process. Finally, I found that you can be stable even at low flow, with the maximum of pressure. The phenomenon of instability is in reality the compressor beginning to go up and down. It’s along a curve that is related to the Poincaré work and related to the fact that you get two partial differential equations, with coefficients that are not constant. Poincaré, who studied those equations, showed that when it comes to this, and the things begin to oscillate that way, they will turn around that curve, a limit curve. It was a phenomenon that became classic in that way. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>How did you get interested in that?<br>  
+
<p>So this theory explains why they become unstable so you can build them and not have them be unstable? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Yes, that’s it. Ah, but this may interest you. I spoke of Mr. Davier? I had to give the speech when he was named at the academy; it’s number 3. </p>
  
Well, I don’t know. I am part of a group called Cercle Pierre de Leuniége, where a number of engineers who are keen on mathematics try to speak about various mathematic issues. Every two months we have a meeting, where someone has to discuss something, and I discussed that. I will give you this list of publications because it’s complete. You can have any one, and many of them are here prepared for you, so I can give you whatever you want.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, I see. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>All right. I can look at this afterwards.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In ‘48, he was named at the Academy of Sciences, and I gave the speech. It may interest you. If you want, I can give you the transcript. </p>
  
=== Description of projects and publications<br> ===
+
<p>[break in recording] </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Shall we go through the list from the beginning? That’s it, there. <br>  
+
<p>You figured out how to turn all of the heat into work instead of just some of it? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>This is number 1 on your list.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, but finally I discovered that the second law of thermodynamics wasn’t well understood at all. Because people thought that it was impossible to transform the totality of the heat of a fuel into mechanical work. That's quite false. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>[End of tape one, side two.] </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Number 1, yes. It’s very old.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>But, when you speak of a fuel, what you get with the fuel is not actually heat; it’s chemical energy. If you burn it anyway, without care, you make heat, and then Carnot applies. But it is possible to let the chemical reaction produce in a reversible way, and then Carnot doesn’t apply. And that is a thing that is almost never understood. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>This is a word I don’t know. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What is the application of that? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
This is a row of blades for a rotating machine; a steam turbine has blades. Those blades are fixed that way, you see? That way, when you cut, see? The machine rotates that way, the axis is that way, and the blades make a rotating one that way, and a non-rotating one the other way. <br>  
+
<p>The application is that when you speak of energy, you must absolutely have that in mind, especially when you speak of devices that work at very high temperatures, where the chemical reaction may be in an equilibrium. You let it change, but not too quickly. Taking care of each step of the diminishing temperature, you get the whole of the energy which never, never becomes heat. It is transformed in mechanical energy, directly, without any irreversibility, and it is very interesting for chemical reactions, if you can really run them in such evolutive equilibrium. Finally I designed the cycle where one can demonstrate that effectively; you transform the whole of what we call the heat of reaction, which is not.... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So you figured out the best aerodynamics for these?<br>  
+
<p>Has this been applied or is this still theoretical? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>It’s theoretical in the way that generally you cannot run a chemical reaction with irreversibility because nothing on earth runs irreversibility. But it’s very important to make a judgment of things, you see, but I have much difficulty to, and recently I had to write a review, and that’s the subject, you see. </p>
  
Yes, and you may study the row of blades without looking at if it rotates or not. The work is to deviate. I found that such a device, a non-rotating row of blades, had properties in itself, and if I employ non-dimensional factors, and put in two factors that are linked to the mass flow and to the deviation, but without dimensions, there is a representative point that may displace itself when you vary the flow. I demonstrated that theoretically when you employ those non-dimensional factors, the representative point theoretically displaces it along a straight line. That’s it. That’s very useful because if you know one point or two points of that line, you know the whole thing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So it’s still current. So this is number 23. This is desalination, taking the salt out.... </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>The whole thing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Desalination, I worked a lot on that. Because we had a little company, or operation that had that job. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>Yes. That was really a finding, and so was this one.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh. So you did a lot of different.... </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 3.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Lots of different things. And this is a study I made on thermodynamic cycles. </p>
  
'''Bidard:''' <br>Number 3, yes. Because at that time, 1946, when I found that area, it was very difficult to know when a compressor was overcharged or not. How could you explain that? When you have a compressor, of air, say, and it is running, it has a certain flow, a certain pressure at the exit. If you make that pressure grow by a diminishing a section of the exit, at a certain moment the compressors refuse to work. But it wasn’t really understood how, why, and so on, you see? People said this became a receptor, the representation of the pressure against the flow. The flow is that way, and the pressure is that way. When you diminish the flow, the pressure goes up. People said that when the receptor is that way, you cannot explain why, because it wouldn’t arrive that way. I finally made the calculations and found that you had to take care of the mass... the accelerations in there, and all that. It is a dynamic process, not a static process. Finally, I found that you can be stable even at low flow, with the maximum of pressure. The phenomenon of instability is in reality the compressor beginning to go up and down. It’s along a curve that is related to the Poincaré work and related to the fact that you get two partial differential equations, with coefficients that are not constant. Poincaré, who studied those equations, showed that when it comes to this, and the things begin to oscillate that way, they will turn around that curve, a limit curve. It was a phenomenon that became classic in that way.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Number 34. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So this theory explains why they become unstable so you can build them and not have them be unstable? <br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>You see, this is the gas tubing with helium for very high temperature atomic energy. This is one of the cycles we studied for the MHD. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Yes, that’s it. Ah, but this may interest you. I spoke of Mr. Davier? I had to give the speech when he was named at the academy; it’s number 3.<br>  
+
<p>Ah, figure 9. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, I see.<br>  
+
<p>I reviewed all the possibilities of the cycles there. Comparison of two turbines of the same power. This is with steam, and this is with Freon 21. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:''' <br>In ‘48, he was named at the Academy of Sciences, and I gave the speech. It may interest you. If you want, I can give you the transcript.  
+
<p>Figure 15. Why, what’s.... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Because it’s at the exit, the heat, the steam. </p>
  
[break in recording]
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, right, so it takes more. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You figured out how to turn all of the heat into work instead of just some of it?<br>  
+
<p>This was a big study. This one is magneto hydrodynamics. This is how it works. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:''' <br>Yes, but finally I discovered that the second law of thermodynamics wasn’t well understood at all. Because people thought that it was impossible to transform the totality of the heat of a fuel into mechanical work. That's quite false.  
+
<p>Number 42. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This is how the whole thing is. But, I have things in English too. This was on the entropy of mixing gases. </p>
  
[End of tape one, side two.]
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Number 40. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:''' <br>But, when you speak of a fuel, what you get with the fuel is not actually heat; it’s chemical energy. If you burn it anyway, without care, you make heat, and then Carnot applies. But it is possible to let the chemical reaction produce in a reversible way, and then Carnot doesn’t apply. And that is a thing that is almost never understood.<br>  
+
<p>Here, I explain all the work we have done at Siemens, and this is the most seclusive. Here, this is under magnetic flux. This is where the liquid turns, and there it is compressed, because the height of the wall, the duct, is diminishing, so it is compressed, and there is the place where the bubbles go in, and here the mixture expands, and produces active current. So you see the pumping is done by electrical means. The liquid is always under magnetic flux. And this works well. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What is the application of that?<br>  
+
<p>That was number 51? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Ah no, this is a study I’ve made for the giant IAEA, International, in Vienna. They had to know about efficiencies and so on; they were not quite in the right thing. [laughter] So I have made this study in English. </p>
  
The application is that when you speak of energy, you must absolutely have that in mind, especially when you speak of devices that work at very high temperatures, where the chemical reaction may be in an equilibrium. You let it change, but not too quickly. Taking care of each step of the diminishing temperature, you get the whole of the energy which never, never becomes heat. It is transformed in mechanical energy, directly, without any irreversibility, and it is very interesting for chemical reactions, if you can really run them in such evolutive equilibrium. Finally I designed the cycle where one can demonstrate that effectively; you transform the whole of what we call the heat of reaction, which is not....<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Number 52. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Has this been applied or is this still theoretical?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Here you find some photographs, I think. Ah yes. This is the main type. If you want a photograph, it is 55. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
It’s theoretical in the way that generally you cannot run a chemical reaction with irreversibility because nothing on earth runs irreversibility. But it’s very important to make a judgment of things, you see, but I have much difficulty to, and recently I had to write a review, and that’s the subject, you see.<br>  
+
<p>All right, number 55 in this, figure seven. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So it’s still current. So this is number 23. This is desalination, taking the salt out....<br>  
+
<p>The nice photograph, this is the generator that is taken out from the magnet. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Oh, so this is the same one in the figure... </p>
  
Desalination, I worked a lot on that. Because we had a little company, or operation that had that job.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The same in figure B, yes. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh. So you did a lot of different....<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So the liquid’s going around... </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Lots of different things. And this is a study I made on thermodynamic cycles.<br>  
+
<p>That’s it. And you see this is sodium. That is because the sodium isn’t liquid at the normal temperature; it becomes liquid at [unintelligible] degrees. Then there it is solidified. The left side of the diagram. A very difficult test. Because with sodium, you know, you must take care. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 34.<br>  
+
<p>Why? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>It burns by itself This one, ah. This is in English. </p>
  
You see, this is the gas tubing with helium for very high temperature atomic energy. This is one of the cycles we studied for the MHD.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Which one is this? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Ah, figure 9.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It’s number 58. That is an explanation; do you want it? It’s an explanation in English. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
I reviewed all the possibilities of the cycles there. Comparison of two turbines of the same power. This is with steam, and this is with Freon 21. <br>  
+
<p>Sure. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Figure 15. Why, what’s....<br>  
+
<p>This is also in English. This was in Amsterdam, Oregon. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>This is number 60. </p>
  
Because it’s at the exit, the heat, the steam.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I can give it to you if you like. This one I had to give in Beijing in 1974. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, right, so it takes more.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>More pictures. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
This was a big study. This one is magneto hydrodynamics. This is how it works.<br>  
+
<p>This picture is... you see how many horses there are? They are transporting a low pressure rotor from a steam turbine. Only 18 megawatts from the project in St. Denis, in 1911. It took 36 horses. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 42.<br>  
+
<p>That’s figure 1. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>I speak also in English in here. It’s in English. </p>
  
This is how the whole thing is. But, I have things in English too. This was on the entropy of mixing gases. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Which one is this? This is number 64? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 40.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>64. My theory of thermodynamic cycles. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Here, I explain all the work we have done at Siemens, and this is the most seclusive. Here, this is under magnetic flux. This is where the liquid turns, and there it is compressed, because the height of the wall, the duct, is diminishing, so it is compressed, and there is the place where the bubbles go in, and here the mixture expands, and produces active current. So you see the pumping is done by electrical means. The liquid is always under magnetic flux. And this works well. <br>  
+
<p>You’ve been in the power industry a long time. I don’t know how many years, sixty years or something. How has it changed over your career in electronics and power? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>That was number 51?<br>  
+
<p>Ah. It changed much, but finally not so much. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>What’s that mean? </p>
  
Ah no, this is a study I’ve made for the giant IAEA, International, in Vienna. They had to know about efficiencies and so on; they were not quite in the right thing. [laughter] So I have made this study in English.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I mean the scale of production of energy has changed, of course, but probably not as fast as it had before. In France, the fact that the production is completely by atomic energy, and completely in the hands of one producer, ADF, has the political effect of normalizing very much. Finally, things don’t change very often. The scale of the machines is actually 1300 megawatts; it was at 1000 before, and that’s not so much more, you see. The technique doesn’t vary very quickly, either. In the main production of electricity, the temperature of the cycle of the steam is always the same, and so on. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 52.<br>
+
=== Work philosophies; theory  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>It sounds like you really enjoyed working on these problems. What did you find the most satisfying to work on? </p>
  
Here you find some photographs, I think. Ah yes. This is the main type. If you want a photograph, it is 55.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>When? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>All right, number 55 in this, figure seven.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What types of things did you like to do -- be in a lab, working hands-on on a big generator, or teaching? What were the things that were most fun? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
The nice photograph, this is the generator that is taken out from the magnet.<br>  
+
<p>That’s difficult to answer. I’m satisfied by the way things worked. I like to work, that’s all. [laughter] Yes. But actually I am most interested in theoretical things, what is in the universe, the big bang and so on. I hope I’ll be able to understand how things work, but it’s always very interesting to read what is printed on my subject. Actually, I found the works of Hawking, and also Penrose, and I follow things in thermodynamics, too. There has been much progress made, especially by men like Prigogine. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, so this is the same one in the figure...<br>  
+
<p>Who is that? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>A well-known thermodynamical... </p>
  
The same in figure B, yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Theorist? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>So the liquid’s going around...<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>He’s a Belgian. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
'''Abbate:'''
 +
 +
  
That’s it. And you see this is sodium. That is because the sodium isn’t liquid at the normal temperature; it becomes liquid at [unintelligible] degrees. Then there it is solidified. The left side of the diagram. A very difficult test. Because with sodium, you know, you must take care.<br>  
+
<p>Is there anything else you’d like to cover that we haven’t talked about? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Why?<br>  
+
<p>Well, what shall I say? What concerns me is that in some domains the progress is really very slow. The progress in the minds of people, I told you about the second law of thermodynamics, which really is not well understood. Not at all. I don’t know why. It should be completely evident. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Do you think the basic theory is lacking, or that nobody understands it, or that the understanding is not widespread? </p>
  
It burns by itself This one, ah. This is in English.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Both. Probably people are not critical enough about themselves. They accept things like that; they don’t see exactly. They don’t criticize their own minds, probably. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Which one is this? <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In terms of advancing the field... </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
It’s number 58. That is an explanation; do you want it? It’s an explanation in English.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Sure.<br>  
+
<p>Do you think it’s more of a theoretical problem than a technological problem in terms of what’s holding people back? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Yes. I speak of theoretical problems, and most people don’t question the fundamentals of their knowledge, because they just accept it as the knowledge of every person. But really sometimes you have to question some things. It’s difficult, it’s hard, but you must do it. As you cannot do that for many things, the choice is very important. You must have a feeling that really, something is wrong. What, you don’t know, but something is wrong in your mind, and you must then criticize yourself. But you must choose, because you cannot put everything in question. </p>
  
This is also in English. This was in Amsterdam, Oregon.<br>
+
=== Electricity development in France and Europe; governmental roles  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>This is number 60.<br>  
+
<p>Interesting. It seems like politics at several points kind of affected the development of electricity in France. Do you think that’s still a problem in terms of, does the government keep companies from doing work that they could be doing, or...? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>I think personally, that the actual politics in techniques cannot endure very much longer. I mean a steady state in progress that we actually have, will certainly necessarily change someday. Actually, in France, in France. And I think it’s quite right. All the work goes on safety. Safety for the nuclear plant. It’s quite right, quite right. But economically, it’s costly, and probably one day it will be understood that such progress in safety must be accompanied by progress in, price, or in efficiency. Balance between price and efficiency has to flow. It’s awful if you imagine that the actual efficiency of a steam cycle for a nuclear reactor is not higher than the efficiency we had for the fuels maybe fifty years ago. We get back to the efficiency we had fifty years ago, for the cycle of heat, et cetera. But, when I speak like that, you see, you don’t imagine that we can change things, especially temperature and pressure for efficiency, or even change the fluid and so on. Things that are actually run are too big, too costly, and things cannot change. </p>
  
I can give it to you if you like. This one I had to give in Beijing in 1974.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Because they’re not building new power plants? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>More pictures.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, we do. There’s actually two or three more. Yes. But we are still using about 75 percent of nuclear power for electricity generation. 75 percent is nuclear, and of course, we have hydroelectric too. We have also tidal, so probably we cannot go more than 70-80 percent. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
This picture is... you see how many horses there are? They are transporting a low pressure rotor from a steam turbine. Only 18 megawatts from the project in St. Denis, in 1911. It took 36 horses.<br>  
+
<p>Has the European Union changed the power industry in France? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>That’s figure 1.<br>  
+
<p>Not much. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Do you think there will continue to be separate power industries in all the countries, or do you think they’ll work together more? </p>
  
I speak also in English in here. It’s in English. <br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I think that it depends on the strategy, and probably if you think of another strategy that would have been possible in each country, we could have had representation of all the other countries and industries. I mean a factory from say Siemens or in the technical environment of Siemens, or from the English people or something, but things have evolved differently. It’s not our fault; I have told you how the CEM has disappeared. CEM was a good representative of that strategy. Now, it’s too late. Each country has its representative, but at home they compete. Why not? But Europe is not necessarily that way. Probably it makes things a bit more difficult, because you have the national preference, and so on. The idea of a completely free market is very distant. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Which one is this? This is number 64?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Certainly in energy, yes. All right. Well, I think we can wrap that up unless there’s anything else you want to add. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>64. My theory of thermodynamic cycles. <br>
+
=== Description of projects and publications continued  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>You’ve been in the power industry a long time. I don’t know how many years, sixty years or something. How has it changed over your career in electronics and power?<br>  
+
<p>Well, maybe we will go on with this list. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Your publications. </p>
  
Ah. It changed much, but finally not so much. <br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This has to do with the famous hydrogen energy. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What’s that mean?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Oh, this is number 72. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
I mean the scale of production of energy has changed, of course, but probably not as fast as it had before. In France, the fact that the production is completely by atomic energy, and completely in the hands of one producer, ADF, has the political effect of normalizing very much. Finally, things don’t change very often. The scale of the machines is actually 1300 megawatts; it was at 1000 before, and that’s not so much more, you see. The technique doesn’t vary very quickly, either. In the main production of electricity, the temperature of the cycle of the steam is always the same, and so on. <br>  
+
<p>Hydrogen energy. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Work philosophies; theory<br> ===
+
<p>I’m not sure I really understand what thermalysis is. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>It sounds like you really enjoyed working on these problems. What did you find the most satisfying to work on?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The question is to make hydrogen. Because many people thought at a certain time that the final solution for energy should be, would be, hydrogen. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
When?<br>  
+
<p>For fusion? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>What types of things did you like to do -- be in a lab, working hands-on on a big generator, or teaching? What were the things that were most fun?<br>  
+
<p>For any purpose. With hydrogen you can make electricity, you can make chemical reactions, you can make cars run, you can make everything. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>[break in recording] </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
That’s difficult to answer. I’m satisfied by the way things worked. I like to work, that’s all. [laughter] Yes. But actually I am most interested in theoretical things, what is in the universe, the big bang and so on. I hope I’ll be able to understand how things work, but it’s always very interesting to read what is printed on my subject. Actually, I found the works of Hawking, and also Penrose, and I follow things in thermodynamics, too. There has been much progress made, especially by men like Prigogine.<br>  
+
<p>And then people said, "The only way is to produce hydrogen, and to put it in pipes the same size as those used for gas, and go on with that." For the chemists, it was always a question of the second law of thermodynamics. [laughter] They said "We can make hydrogen the best way, because we have to furnish the heat content of the reaction, by splitting water...". </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Who is that?<br>  
+
<p>So the chemists wanted to do this thermalysis.... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''<br>A well-known thermodynamical...<br>  
+
<p>At very high temperatures the water splits. You take off the oxygen on this side, and the hydrogen on the other. They said that this was the only way to do it. The economical way. My company asked in the meantime, "What shall we do? Shall we try to electrolyze it, or should we help the chemists to do their job?" I made a study, and I discovered that the chemists were really not aware of the second law of thermodynamics. Once more, because what they needed was not really the heat of the reaction; they needed to put in the process, the energy sufficient to split, and if they were, if the heat is too low in temperature you need much more heat, and but to see that you must know exactly the whole process. That’s it, number 72. This other one is in English. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Theorist?<br>  
+
<p>75? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
He’s a Belgian. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br> '''Abbate:'''<br>Is there anything else you’d like to cover that we haven’t talked about?<br>  
+
<p>So is that the same kind of problem? Energy conservation? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>75, the same idea. This one is probably the best one for you, yes, for you or for others. This is on the energy of chemical reactions; it’s in English. That’s also in English. Heat pumps. </p>
  
Well, what shall I say? What concerns me is that in some domains the progress is really very slow. The progress in the minds of people, I told you about the second law of thermodynamics, which really is not well understood. Not at all. I don’t know why. It should be completely evident.<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This is 78, that one. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think the basic theory is lacking, or that nobody understands it, or that the understanding is not widespread?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, 78’s in English too. But it’s especially heat pumps. You know, I’ve worked on many different things. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
Both. Probably people are not critical enough about themselves. They accept things like that; they don’t see exactly. They don’t criticize their own minds, probably.<br>  
+
<p>And that’s 82. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>In terms of advancing the field...<br>  
+
<p>This is MHD once more. This is probably a new idea.... </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>This is 91? </p>
  
Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How to make it emit, when you have many processes in about the same place, chemical and metallurgical and so on. For each process you generally have some heat that is lost at different temperatures. All the processes that need heat lose it at different temperatures, and the idea is to put all that in a net so you can recover heat from one to the other. But you needed to have elliptical net transformers to change the voltage. You need to connect your different sources of heat, heat that is not given but taken at different temperatures. You needed to transform the temperatures, to put a sort of transformer to change not the voltage but the temperature. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think it’s more of a theoretical problem than a technological problem in terms of what’s holding people back?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Is that the whole system? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Yes. I speak of theoretical problems, and most people don’t question the fundamentals of their knowledge, because they just accept it as the knowledge of every person. But really sometimes you have to question some things. It’s difficult, it’s hard, but you must do it. As you cannot do that for many things, the choice is very important. You must have a feeling that really, something is wrong. What, you don’t know, but something is wrong in your mind, and you must then criticize yourself. But you must choose, because you cannot put everything in question. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. How to do it. And this is the CEM story. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
=== Electricity development in France and Europe; governmental roles<br> ===
+
<p>Number 101. May I keep this? </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Interesting. It seems like politics at several points kind of affected the development of electricity in France. Do you think that’s still a problem in terms of, does the government keep companies from doing work that they could be doing, or...?<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Of course; you may keep whatever you wish. Oh this is also probably interesting. </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
I think personally, that the actual politics in techniques cannot endure very much longer. I mean a steady state in progress that we actually have, will certainly necessarily change someday. Actually, in France, in France. And I think it’s quite right. All the work goes on safety. Safety for the nuclear plant. It’s quite right, quite right. But economically, it’s costly, and probably one day it will be understood that such progress in safety must be accompanied by progress in, price, or in efficiency. Balance between price and efficiency has to flow. It’s awful if you imagine that the actual efficiency of a steam cycle for a nuclear reactor is not higher than the efficiency we had for the fuels maybe fifty years ago. We get back to the efficiency we had fifty years ago, for the cycle of heat, et cetera. But, when I speak like that, you see, you don’t imagine that we can change things, especially temperature and pressure for efficiency, or even change the fluid and so on. Things that are actually run are too big, too costly, and things cannot change.<br>  
+
<p>Number 102. What’s energetics? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Because they’re not building new power plants? <br>  
+
<p>Energetics. It’s a new word. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>It’s new to me. [laughter] What’s it mean? </p>
  
Yes, we do. There’s actually two or three more. Yes. But we are still using about 75 percent of nuclear power for electricity generation. 75 percent is nuclear, and of course, we have hydroelectric too. We have also tidal, so probably we cannot go more than 70-80 percent.<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It means that when you deal with this question of thermodynamics, generally you speak in an old language, speaking of heat and work. It’s not a good way to express it, because work and heat haven’t the same values. You cannot completely transform heat into work, although you can very easily do the contrary. But there is another way to speak of things: it’s to split the heat into two parts, one which is completely transformable into work, and the other that isn’t, and never can be. If you do that, as we do in finance, you have an input-output and so on, and you make balance and so on. You have exergy and energy, but those are the two parts of the heat I’ve spoken of. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Has the European Union changed the power industry in France?<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, is the exergy the part that can be transformed into work or the part that can’t be? </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
Not much.<br>  
+
<p>Can be. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Do you think there will continue to be separate power industries in all the countries, or do you think they’ll work together more?<br>  
+
<p>And the energy can’t be. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Bidard:''' </p>
  
'''Bidard:'''
+
<p>As Prigogine has stated in a law, this has to do with the energy which is nothing else than entropy, finally. Here I show that to maximize the cost of any process, the best thing to do, of course, is the energetical cost. Taking care not only with the consumption of energy, but also taking care on investments. You make an economical study, and this means working against the consumption of energy. For that you must compare the investments with the capitalized cost of energy. If you do that, you finally come to the best solution. Prigogine has shown that speed has to do with energy consumption. You may easily imagine that effectively if you speed up a process, all the losses will go up too. When you put more velocity anywhere, you have also more losses and so on. And if you exchange heat, if you have a higher temperature gap, you also have more heat going through. Prigogine has put that in equations, and shown that it’s a general law. It doesn’t apply everywhere. Sometimes you have losses that don’t have the effect of putting more projection, you see. But when it applies, then you can have a very easy calculation, and not having to make the economical study step by step you can directly tell what will be the best thing to do. It’s what I say in that paper. This one is in English too. It was done with ice, and it’s number 102. Well, that’s all. Let me hand you a written list of what I think are the most important things. </p>
  
I think that it depends on the strategy, and probably if you think of another strategy that would have been possible in each country, we could have had representation of all the other countries and industries. I mean a factory from say Siemens or in the technical environment of Siemens, or from the English people or something, but things have evolved differently. It’s not our fault; I have told you how the CEM has disappeared. CEM was a good representative of that strategy. Now, it’s too late. Each country has its representative, but at home they compete. Why not? But Europe is not necessarily that way. Probably it makes things a bit more difficult, because you have the national preference, and so on. The idea of a completely free market is very distant. <br>  
+
<p>'''Abbate:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>All right. Thank you very much for giving me this interview. </p>
  
'''Abbate:'''<br>Certainly in energy, yes. All right. Well, I think we can wrap that up unless there’s anything else you want to add.<br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Bidard]] [[Category:Corporations|Bidard]] [[Category:Universities|Bidard]] [[Category:Engineers|Bidard]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry application|Bidard]] [[Category:Electromechanical systems|Bidard]] [[Category:Motors|Bidard]] [[Category:Engines|Bidard]] [[Category:Jet engines|Bidard]] [[Category:Industrial electronics|Bidard]] [[Category:Culture and society|Bidard]] [[Category:Defense & security|Bidard]] [[Category:World War II|Bidard]] [[Category:Workplace|Bidard]] [[Category:International affairs & development|Bidard]] [[Category:Scientific tools and discoveries|Bidard]] [[Category:Mathematics|Bidard]] [[Category:Power generation|Bidard]] [[Category:Transportation|Bidard]] [[Category:Aerospace and electronic systems|Bidard]] [[Category:Military aerospace equipment|Bidard]] [[Category:News|Bidard]]
 
+
=== <br>Description of projects and publications continued <br>  ===
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
Well, maybe we will go on with this list.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>Your publications.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''<br>This has to do with the famous hydrogen energy.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>Oh, this is number 72.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''<br>Hydrogen energy. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>I’m not sure I really understand what thermalysis is.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
The question is to make hydrogen. Because many people thought at a certain time that the final solution for energy should be, would be, hydrogen.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>For fusion?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
For any purpose. With hydrogen you can make electricity, you can make chemical reactions, you can make cars run, you can make everything.
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
[break in recording]
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
And then people said, "The only way is to produce hydrogen, and to put it in pipes the same size as those used for gas, and go on with that." For the chemists, it was always a question of the second law of thermodynamics. [laughter] They said "We can make hydrogen the best way, because we have to furnish the heat content of the reaction, by splitting water...".<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>So the chemists wanted to do this thermalysis....<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
At very high temperatures the water splits. You take off the oxygen on this side, and the hydrogen on the other. They said that this was the only way to do it. The economical way. My company asked in the meantime, "What shall we do? Shall we try to electrolyze it, or should we help the chemists to do their job?" I made a study, and I discovered that the chemists were really not aware of the second law of thermodynamics. Once more, because what they needed was not really the heat of the reaction; they needed to put in the process, the energy sufficient to split, and if they were, if the heat is too low in temperature you need much more heat, and but to see that you must know exactly the whole process. That’s it, number 72. This other one is in English.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>75?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
Yes.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>So is that the same kind of problem? Energy conservation?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
75, the same idea. This one is probably the best one for you, yes, for you or for others. This is on the energy of chemical reactions; it’s in English. That’s also in English. Heat pumps.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>This is 78, that one.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
Yes, 78’s in English too. But it’s especially heat pumps. You know, I’ve worked on many different things. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>And that’s 82.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
This is MHD once more. This is probably a new idea....<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>This is 91?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
How to make it emit, when you have many processes in about the same place, chemical and metallurgical and so on. For each process you generally have some heat that is lost at different temperatures. All the processes that need heat lose it at different temperatures, and the idea is to put all that in a net so you can recover heat from one to the other. But you needed to have elliptical net transformers to change the voltage. You need to connect your different sources of heat, heat that is not given but taken at different temperatures. You needed to transform the temperatures, to put a sort of transformer to change not the voltage but the temperature. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>Is that the whole system?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
Yes. How to do it. And this is the CEM story.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 101. May I keep this?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''<br> Of course; you may keep whatever you wish. Oh this is also probably interesting. <br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>Number 102. What’s energetics?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''<br>Energetics. It’s a new word.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>It’s new to me. [laughter] What’s it mean?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
It means that when you deal with this question of thermodynamics, generally you speak in an old language, speaking of heat and work. It’s not a good way to express it, because work and heat haven’t the same values. You cannot completely transform heat into work, although you can very easily do the contrary. But there is another way to speak of things: it’s to split the heat into two parts, one which is completely transformable into work, and the other that isn’t, and never can be. If you do that, as we do in finance, you have an input-output and so on, and you make balance and so on. You have exergy and energy, but those are the two parts of the heat I’ve spoken of.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>So, is the exergy the part that can be transformed into work or the part that can’t be?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''<br> Can be.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>And the energy can’t be.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Bidard:'''
+
 
+
As Prigogine has stated in a law, this has to do with the energy which is nothing else than entropy, finally. Here I show that to maximize the cost of any process, the best thing to do, of course, is the energetical cost. Taking care not only with the consumption of energy, but also taking care on investments. You make an economical study, and this means working against the consumption of energy. For that you must compare the investments with the capitalized cost of energy. If you do that, you finally come to the best solution. Prigogine has shown that speed has to do with energy consumption. You may easily imagine that effectively if you speed up a process, all the losses will go up too. When you put more velocity anywhere, you have also more losses and so on. And if you exchange heat, if you have a higher temperature gap, you also have more heat going through. Prigogine has put that in equations, and shown that it’s a general law. It doesn’t apply everywhere. Sometimes you have losses that don’t have the effect of putting more projection, you see. But when it applies, then you can have a very easy calculation, and not having to make the economical study step by step you can directly tell what will be the best thing to do. It’s what I say in that paper. This one is in English too. It was done with ice, and it’s number 102. Well, that’s all. Let me hand you a written list of what I think are the most important things.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Abbate:'''<br>All right. Thank you very much for giving me this interview.<br><br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
[[Category:People_and_organizations]] [[Category:Corporations]] [[Category:Universities]] [[Category:Engineers]] [[Category:Power,_energy_&_industry_application|Category:Power,_energy_&amp;_industry_application]] [[Category:Electromechanical_systems]] [[Category:Motors]] [[Category:Engines]] [[Category:Jet_engines]] [[Category:Industrial_electronics]] [[Category:Culture_and_society]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:World_War_II]] [[Category:Workplace]] [[Category:International_affairs_&_development|Category:International_affairs_&amp;_development]] [[Category:General_topics_for_engineers]] [[Category:Mathematics]] [[Category:Power_generation]] [[Category:Transportation]] [[Category:Aerospace_and_electronic_systems]] [[Category:Military_aerospace_equipment]]
+

Revision as of 13:28, 16 May 2012

Contents

About Rene Bidard

Rene Bidard
Rene Bidard

Rene Bidard developed an interest in radio and electricity as a child in 1920s Paris. Nevertheless, Bidard also elected studies in composition, Latin, philosophy, and mathematics before earning an electricity prize and enrolling at the Université d'Électricité. Bidard gained employment at Compagnie Électro-Mécanique in 1934, became chief engineer in the aftermath of World War II, and worked with the company until its 1983 acquisition by the Alsthom company. Having written a corporate history of CEM, Bidard provides information on its evolution and on the French government's role in industry. Bidard also taught as a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique for twenty-seven years.

In this interview, Bidard describes his education and teaching but devotes particular attention to his Compagnie Électro-Mécanique projects. During his early years with CEM, he collaborated with the Brown-Boveri company in Switzerland, developing the Vilox supercharged automatic boiler and attempting to operate it on powdered coal. Bidard then worked on gas turbine development and on the French navy's development of a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines. This work began before World War II, but Bidard, mobilized as a French lieutenant, continued the project in secret during German occupation of France. Bidard then describes the evolution of IRO engine technology, as influenced by World War II.

As he traces his career progression to chief engineer, Bidard analyzes the corporate structure of CEM, as well as the effects of World War II on French technology and industry. He narrates the turn to magneto-hydrodynamics and the ramjet in response to development challenges. After describing the steps of CEM's acquisition by Alsthom, Bidard describes his work during retirement, including publishing, consulting, and mathematics research.

In the concluding section of the interview, Bidard provides comments to annotate a list of projects spanning his career. He also provides his thoughts on the roles of theory and technology in driving research, and on the influence of the French government and the European Union on development.

About the Interview

Rene Bidard: An Interview Conducted by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, 23 July 1996

Interview #295 for The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Rene Bidard, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Janet Abbate, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: RENE BIDARD

INTERVIEWER: JANET ABBATE

PLACE: Paris France

DATE: JULY 23, 1996

Education

Abbate:

Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you first got interested in science and engineering.

Bidard:

Well, as a child I was already interested in wires! As a teen, I made a wireless set, and at that time it only had a crystal.

Abbate:

Was this in the 1920s?

Bidard:

Yes, the 1920s. Later I made a set with electronic bulbs. I was very proud of it. Finally, my big interest was in electricity, so very soon, I wanted to be an engineer. My father was an architect, and my mother was also an architect. I would like to point out that although I was not born in this flat, I have lived here since I was a few months old.

Abbate:

This same apartment?

Bidard:

That's right. Of course, I have traveled around Europe and elsewhere, but I always have come back here. It's a very old house. It was built before the French Revoluton by the people of the Convent. I decided that I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to go to the École Centrale. I was also interested in composition, and I studied Latin. I took a second baccalaureate in philosophy and mathematics for the same reason, because I was interested in them. At that time, you had to go through two courses on two different years. About 5000 or so students started out, but only 800 passed their first examinations, and only 200 made it to the second year. I worked a lot, of course. This was in the late 1920s, and it was very difficult to find a job. Since I won a prize for electricity, it allowed me to enroll at another school, Université d'Électricité. There was military service in between them. I had an uncle who was a politician, who helped me find a job. He got me a job at the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. And so I have never known any other firm that this one. I went there in 1934.

Compagnie Électro-Mécanique

Bidard:

So I came to the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique and there I had to deal with electricity, of course. I also had to calculate. I tried to find a better way to calculate using the machines, and I was known in the company for that. Compagnie Électro-Mécanique was an old company, founded in the 1880s I think, and they were intimately connected with Brown-Boveri in Switzerland. We were licensed from Brown-Boveri. We were involved in the development of a supercharged automatic boiler named Vilox. The company sent me to Brown-Boveri in Switzerland to be part of a team there. The aim was to try to make that machine work with powdered coal. It worked only on fuel oil, which was more expensive than coal powder. So that's what I worked on for two years. It was awful!

Abbate:

Why?

Bidard:

Because of the dirt! And it was dangerous, because we couldn't get that coal burning constantly. It was always exploding and so on! It was supercharged by a gas turbine and a compressor. This compressor was a natural compressor, which had been developed partly by the Compagnie Électro-Mécanique. The idea came from a man named Jaques DeBieu, the man with whom I worked all my life, was extrememly brilliant, and he finally became a member of the company. After that, we saw that it was impossible to make such a boiler work well. The idea was to make a gas turbine on the principle. I was sent once more to that place. This brings me to my effort in 1938.

Abbate:

The Compagnie Électro-Mécanique, was their business to sell generators?

Bidard:

No. Their business was about the same as G.E. We had about ten factories in France: big turbines, big electric generators, electric motors, little ones, big ones, transformers, breakers, all that.

Abbate:

So you sold to power companies and industry?

Bidard:

Now, if you are interested, I wrote the story of the CEM.

Abbate:

I noticed that.

Bidard:

Maybe you know that it was written on behalf of --

Abbate:

The Association Histoirette

Bidard:

Yes. Then you have that text probably. I have the papers here; all that is for you if you want them. It’s too much, of course, but you can pick anything you want from that.

Propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines; WWII

Bidard:

Well, just before the second world war, the French navy was very interested in a secret proposition to make a propulsion device with autonomous gas turbines. This was the idea of Georges Davier, who, knowing a lot about aerodynamics, knew very well that when a flow of gas flows around a blade, say, there is a limit, what we call a couche limite, just on the wall, a certain part of the fluid that is stuck to the wall. It has a very small speed, a limit layer. If you can feed that small flow with cold gas, you protect the wall from the heat. The idea was a good one, and we did a lot of work on that, and we were able to prove that effectively with a flow, very limited, say 1 to 1.5 percent or something like that, of the total. With cold gas, you can completely protect the walls, and let the blade itself be at the temperature say of 500 or 550 degrees centigrade. That was the one figure sustainable at that time, with the metals we had. The main flow was at about 800 to 850 degrees, which is very hot. Actually, we were at say 1200 degrees or something. It was in about 1933. I was at that point in Switzerland, and came back to France to take charge of the project, which was a very big one, 10,000 horsepower. It was a big, big thing, and we had very little experience with this. So that was my job, and when the war came, we were very much advanced. We had already built the smaller part, and we were running it at around 850 or more degrees, when the war occurred. I had to go to the front. Between the declared beginning of the war and the actual battle, I’d been mobilized as a lieutenant because, having done all those schools I was prepared to be an officer, you see. But the French navy during that period called me back to work on the project, so that when the disaster came, I was on that job, and we didn’t know what to do. We succeeded in continuing to work without the Germans knowing anything. [laughter].

Abbate:

So you were doing this in secret during the Occupation?

Bidard:

Yes, it was extremely secret.

Abbate:

How did you do that?

Bidard:

Well, it was a bit dangerous, of course. This was aimed at very speedy boats, of course. After the war, the navy hadn’t much interest in very high speeds for the boats because they had airplanes on board, and you didn’t need high speed boats any more.

IRO engines; WWII airplanes

Bidard:

But I must tell you something else. When I had come to the CEM in 1934, it was still possible to supercharge diesel engines with gas turbines and compressors, because with the diesel engines, the exhaust is only 550 degrees centigrade. It was possible to run it at that temperature. But not the IRO engines, which were of course piston engines at that time, because the exhaust of those engines is at about 800 degrees centigrade. The idea was to apply the technique to that special case, which was extremely interesting. I was not in that development, but it is interesting to tell you that just before the war, we were able to supercharge an IRO engine, a piston engine, at that temperature. The government had helped us to build a big test device, and we had to feed the compressor at the entry, at minus 50 Centigrade, which is the temperature at 10,000 meters up, and it was of course a bit difficult to do. [laughter] The machine was running at something like 10,000 rpm. The compressor was a centrifugal compressor, of course, and at minus 50 centigrade and with a turbine at plus 800 degrees there. 800 degrees is white hot. At minus 50, the compressor was completely under ice.. So finally the government said, "Now you will build a factory to make that big series." We did it; the factory was running in 1939, and the first war machine came out of it about three months after that. When the war was in maximum force, there was probably one French airplane still flying, but that one was at 10,000 meters, and the German planes couldn’t go that high. It was maybe five or six months, because you also needed to let the pilots know the plane, learn how to fly so high, and so on. You needed a bit of time, but it was a question of six months probably. If that had been made six months earlier, probably, the war would have gone quite differently, because of the necessity to protect the tanks. You see, they had many airplanes protecting their tanks...

Abbate:

The Germans.

Bidard:

...against ours, but our planes could have been so high that they could first destroy the German planes, and then the tanks.

Abbate:

That one airplane that was flying, what did they use it for?

Bidard:

Oh, it was just a trial, yes. No, as a matter of fact probably there had been a little more than that. But it wasn’t effective, you know. No pilot was able to know how to manage with such things. Well, this is the story. [laughter] Now should we go on?

Abbate:

Sure.

Chief engineer appointment; CEM corporate structure

Bidard:

We were just after the war, then. It’s at that moment that I became chief engineer for the whole company. That is, I had to deal with the whole technique. I count about thirty different techniques we had. Many small companies were connected with us.

Abbate:

How big was the company?

Bidard:

At that moment it was only 5000 people. Finally we came to 11,000; that was the biggest. It’s like that in France. You see, if you are that big you must have many different technical employees. You are still small compared to what happens in the States, of course. Just after the war, there was a big problem. We in France and in all Europe, had been able to make no progress during the previous five or six wartime years. In the States, things had been moving very quickly. We needed to go to the States and learn all about their progress, and they said, "Now you must go on and progress too." So that has been my job for years and years; I went to the States several times to see things, especially in électrotechnique. We had to make progress in transformers, to make progress in breakers, to make progress in generators, and so on. And we did it. But I was finally quite interested in thermal dynamics, and aerodynamics too. I told Monsieur Davier I had to work a lot on electricity. I had to work on thermodynamics, and to fulfill the needs of the company we both made the thing, you see? A good part of my original work has been on aerodynamics and thermodynamics. I must tell you another thing. After the war, doing the work I told you about, research on mass turbines, we were in France the only ones able to make a jet for the airplanes. During the war, the Germans had a jet, not a very good one, and the English people had some. In France we had two aerial engine makers. We told the government that we were able to make a jet, so they said, "Why not?" [laughter] Finally we built nine prototypes of a jet.

Abbate:

And this is in the mid-1940s?

Bidard:

It was later. It was the late 1940s. After the war, of course. Those prototypes worked very well. Extremely well. So they asked me to be a professor at the École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique. I said, "Why not?" [laughter] I like to have contact with young people, and so on. Also it’s very interesting, because it obliges you to think about things very acutely if you have to present things to students. So I said yes, and it was 1946. But after a while, the French government saw that there were three factories now: the Rolls Royce; the Hispano, that we must support with the Rolls Royce license; and the CEM, which was nationalized, and became SNEGMA. That is a really well-known firm, and it took a number of German engineers who had worked on their jet, and we were the only French ones, you see. So the government said, "We cannot support three different techniques, so you have to marry one of the two others." Well, it was a bit difficult, because we couldn’t join a nationalized firm, so we only had the choice of Rolls Royce, which was not nationalized, and we had conversations. We were fiancées, if you like, but not really married, because it was extremely difficult on questions of patents. Industrial property. It was extremely difficult to settle. Finally, the French government said, "You are not really married." Finally we said no. And all was done.

École Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique

Bidard:

I was a professor at the Super-Aero, and I continued to teach jet engines at Super-Aero for 27 years.

Abbate:

So you were teaching and also working at CEM at the same time?

Bidard:

Yes, yes. It was a big job. But it interested me, and of course I had to publish a book, and so on, you see. Of course I was very often helped. We had eight professors. And finally the school was very happy to have someone who wasn’t tied to that job, because I could see things without any connections too tight with anyone, yes. Finally I quit the job in 1972, I think, when the school had to move to Toulouse. It was really too far. Mr. Davier worked a lot on the electricity, and me especially on thermodynamics, probably because I was professing at Super-Aero.

Challenges in turbine development; stability and dimensions

Bidard:

Because of the steam turbines at the CEM, we were faced with a big problem, which was the dimensions of those machines. They doubled each seven years; it was really awful. We had to think a lot about ways to reduce those dimensions and try to find another fluid than steam, and try to develop the condition turbines, and so on. During that time the CEM made big progresses in electricity too, under my supervision.

We dealt with the question of the big turbo generators, and magnetic controls, speed controls and all that, and we had to deal with the stability of the whole net, to try to make that control much more speedy, and so on. I had to deal with all that -- not personally, but I worked with M. Davier, who had very good ideas. He presented these ideas at a CIGRE meeting. Those big turbo generators had the small machines inside for the excitation, the magnetic flux. It was a direct current, a little generator, inside, that we called the excitatrice. As a matter of fact, it was on the same shaft. This excitatrice had to deal with the machine variation. When you have an incident on the net, and the machines have to maintain the voltage, then you must react very, very quickly. He had very good ideas on that. What was finally developed by the CEM was what we call the series excitation. It was a series excitation of the excitator, or the excitatrice. This little direct current machine was excited by series excitation, and it was a very good solution for that. Actually we do that with electronics. But that one was made with a turning machine. Well, he had other ideas on that question, but it’s a bit difficult to explain. [laughter] We also progressed on transformers, developing special techniques --

[End of tape one, side one.]

Bidard:

Finally, the problem was really that the state wasn’t satisfactory, owing to the big dimensions of those machines, and the difficulty of constructing them and so on.

Magneto-hydrodynamics, ramjet technology

Bidard:

So I had to think about another solution, and at that moment, many people thought that the MHD was something interesting. You’ve heard of that, the MHD?

Abbate:

Only from you. [laughter]

Bidard:

Magneto-hydrodynamics. Yes. It’s very badly named, because, finally, it wasn’t at all a liquid, but a gas. It should have been named magneto-gasodynamics. [laughter]

Abbate:

And what is that? MHD?

Bidard:

MHD? It's an electric generator which doesn’t need any rotating parts. It was known for a long, long time, because even Lord Kelvin had made tests on that idea. When a liquid flows, a liquid that is electrically conducting, it flows through a magnetic flux. It generates a voltage at a right angle, and it can then produce a electric current, that is electric energy, by the speed of the flow. So if you have a gas conducting, you may do that, and the gas may be conducting when it is ionized. At a very high temperature. Many people -- in Russia, in the United States, in Germany, everywhere -- were working on that solution, but the only thing is that you need a very high temperature to ionize the gases. The idea was to have a combustion at very high temperatures. You must first compress air and fuel, just like as in an engine, compress it, have the condition with an ionized gas, let them pass through a magnetic field, extract the electrical energy that way, and let it go. There are no rotating parts.

Abbate:

And what’s the advantage of that?

Bidard:

To minimize the rotating parts. That was an enormous advantage. Also, eventually, you can hope for better efficiency. The higher the temperature, the better the efficiency. That’s all, but those very high temperatures are awful, awful. You cannot stay with it, especially with the impurities of the fuel. They spent a lot of money on that; this was about thirty years ago. Finally, it was always the same problem. They continued in Russia, and also in the United States. But, being aware of those difficulties, I said, "You must find something else." Now I was obliged to come up with something. [laughter] Being a professor at Super-Aero, I had to deal with all the means of jet propulsion. There is a solution to it; you see it’s a ramjet. You’ve heard of that? The ramjet is a sort of tube with no rotating parts. You have an entry, it works at very high speed, you let the air go in, and you expand the surface. That is, you oblige the fluid to slow up, and so the pressure goes up by kinetic energy. Then when you have a sufficient pressure you let the fuel go into the fire, then you expand it at the exit, and that’s all. The fluid goes out at a speed higher than it went in, because of the expansion, the higher temperature, and so on. You get a push, a propulsion. Then I was working for the French navy, and I said, "We know very well that propellers in the water cannot go above a certain speed because of many reasons." You get phenomena, very tricky, and these limit the propeller speed. I said to myself, "Well, why not try to find a ramjet for the propulsions of boats, inside water instead of air?" Then the idea was to evaporate the water, get steam, bubbles and so on, and they expand. But this is extremely costly, because you need 600 calories for each gram of water you...

Abbate:

You want to boil.

Bidard:

Yes. I said, "But why not have a compressor on board, compress air, make bubbles inside the water, and let that expand it? If it behaves like a homogenous fluid, it’s all right; it becomes elastic. It can expand with the bubbles being in the water." So I spoke of that to the French navy, and they said to proceed. So we made tests on things like that, and it worked. We even made a one-ton push device. It didn’t go farther because of the same reason I have said before: they didn’t need the speedy boats anymore. But I knew from those tests that such a foam made by injecting the bubbles, behaves really like a homogenous fluid; it expands very well, and so on, and with a very good efficiency. I knew that. So we come back now to the MHD. I said, "Maybe instead of going to 3000 degrees to ionize the gas, we’ll stay under, but higher than the normal temperature of the steam in the turbine, which is about 600 degrees centigrade. Maybe about 1000 degrees; why not? No rotating parts in a ramjet. We will make a fluid that will be electrically conducting and also expandable. Injecting a gas. Let’s say we’ve chosen argon, but it could be also helium, or things that are chemically very neutral, and in a liquid metal that is electrically conducting. I can make a sort of ram generator with only a duct. The Électricité de France has been very interested in that, and we have applied it to lots of things today -- this ramjet technology we developed for the navy. We knew a lot of things. With the help of the Électricité de France, we built a test bed. We knew that there would be a lot of problems on the flow of those foams, and you must make tests before and not necessarily at 1000 degrees. You can work lower, and learn a lot of things without going so high. It’s what we’ve done. Also, you are not obliged at first to try that under magnetic flux. The first trials we made only with water and air. [laughter] To see how it worked. And it worked very well. So we built a big magnet, and we chose liquid sodium as a liquid metal, because the liquid sodium had been well-employed already, with rapid nuclear generators. At high temperatures they utilized this liquid sodium, at the CEM, so we had the whole knowledge on liquid sodium. We had made electricity that way, and of course the idea was not to burn any fuel in that device to get the high temperature. It must work with nuclear energy, of course. Because later the fossil fuels will be probably depleted inside the earth, so then you can only rely on atomic energy. You need high temperatures, because if you have the same temperature that the steam is, the results are of no interest. So you need 1000 degrees generated in a nuclear generator. We made a government venture with General Dynamics in San Diego.

Abbate:

To build MHD generators?

Bidard:

To let them do it, because they were developing high temperature nuclear generators, to be able to employ their generator as the primary energy furnisher. At that moment they said they were absolutely able to make that generator, at first 800 degrees. But it happened that they had many difficulties. It has been cut down; it was about twenty years ago. But still I am sure that one day we’ll build such devices, because the liquid metals are needed, especially for the fusion reactor. You know that there is a big incentive in going not to fission, but to fusion, and those fusion generators need liquid metals. If they have liquid metals, the best way is to extract the energy by using that way, you see. It will probably come back. That’s the story of the MHD. [laughter]

Governmental intervention in CEM; Alsthom

Abbate:

So, what ever happened to CEM? You said they’re no longer...

Bidard:

CEM. It was an awful thing. And it was the French government. At that time it was under the presidency of... I guess it was Giscard d’Estaing. It was right-wing politics. They felt that CEM's position inside French industry wasn’t very adequate, because they had to support [unintelligible], It must also be said that the fact that we were working with the Swiss was a disadvantage. But I think that more important was that in England, they had merged all the electricity companies for big machines into one. I speak only of big machines -- big generators, turbines, and so on. Also in Germany they made a fusion between AEG and Siemens. So in the future Europe, the competitors were big organizations, but in France they were still dispersed. They said then, "We must eliminate one, the one who has the largest part of the capital interest. CEM, you must sell your big machines part to Alsthom."

Abbate:

To who?

Bidard:

Alsthom.

It’s a big company that is like GE. It was one of the biggest competitors in France. We said, "That’s our right arm. If you cut off our right arm we cannot live." We had three big departments, one for the big machines, one for the small ones, and another one for the utilities and so on. We said, "Buy the whole company if you want." "Oh no, we want the right arm." And they said, "Well if this is so, we will tell the Électricité de France that they must not buy any big machines from CEM." That’s what they did. We had big orders, so we tried to live that way. We even tried to earn the same number of francs, selling equipment all over the world. But finally we couldn’t survive that way, and we had major money losses during the last few years. Then finally the whole company sold its right arm to Alsthom. But of course we could not live that way, and some years later, the buildings and machines were sold off, and Alsthom bought the totality. But in between, I must mention, politics went the other way, to the left, during Francois Mitterand's presidency, and Mitterand just let the thing go on the same way. So the Compagnie Electromechanique disappeared. But I personally wasn’t sold to Alsthom. I stayed with what was left of the company the first time, and I was retired when the company disappeared. That’s my part of the story.

Abbate:

That’s too bad.

Bidard:

Yes.

Publications

Abbate:

But you did things since your retirement, right?

Bidard:

Now, I propose that maybe we look at those papers I published. Actually, you haven’t got the list of publications?

Abbate:

I do have the list.

Bidard:

You have it. Yes, good. Well, that is probably not exactly the last one. On your copy, number 105 is the last one.

Abbate:

Yes.

Bidard:

That’s it.

Abbate:

I’ve got that. I see in here a history of the company.

Bidard:

Oh, I see it’s not complete. The last is 108 or 109, something like that. Well, I will complete it.

Abbate:

Oh, you’ve got a more recent one.

Bidard:

But of course it’s not very technical. This is technical --108. "Moteur Thermique ou Moteur Chimique." Note the critique. I was completely shocked by an article that appeared in the review journal Entropie, and I had to answer.

Abbate:

Is this thermo versus chemical motors?

Bidard:

Yes. And this was last year.

Abbate:

It seems like you’ve been quite active since your retirement from CEM.

Bidard:

Yes, I am active.

Abbate:

So, do you just do this on your own or are you affiliated with a university or a company or something?

Bidard:

I’m part of many, many little groups for the French language, mathematics, and also for many reviews. They ask me sometimes to give advice and so on. I’m quite active, yes. [laughter]

Consulting work; mathematics interests

Abbate:

You’re a consultant.

Bidard:

If you like, yes.

Abbate:

What are some of the things you’re doing now?

Bidard:

Other things? Well, you see, for instance, I discovered my main interest. In the regular numeral system, the base is ten, but in computer techniques you employ the base two. I said, "Well, why two? They say it’s the best one, but it all has to be proved." Mathematically, I’ve found that it wasn’t two. Yes. It’s very strange. Mathematically, you find that the best is E.

Abbate:

E, the natural number.

Bidard:

The number E -- 2.718. But it’s not a plain number, so it doesn’t work as a base. The closest whole number is 3. Finally, you find that you can gain seven percent of the cases, in the matrix, you need for....

Abbate:

How did you get interested in that?

Bidard:

Well, I don’t know. I am part of a group called Cercle Pierre de Leuniége, where a number of engineers who are keen on mathematics try to speak about various mathematic issues. Every two months we have a meeting, where someone has to discuss something, and I discussed that. I will give you this list of publications because it’s complete. You can have any one, and many of them are here prepared for you, so I can give you whatever you want.

Abbate:

All right. I can look at this afterwards.

Description of projects and publications

Bidard:

Shall we go through the list from the beginning? That’s it, there.

Abbate:

This is number 1 on your list.

Bidard:

Number 1, yes. It’s very old.

Abbate:

This is a word I don’t know.

Bidard:

This is a row of blades for a rotating machine; a steam turbine has blades. Those blades are fixed that way, you see? That way, when you cut, see? The machine rotates that way, the axis is that way, and the blades make a rotating one that way, and a non-rotating one the other way.

Abbate:

So you figured out the best aerodynamics for these?

Bidard:

Yes, and you may study the row of blades without looking at if it rotates or not. The work is to deviate. I found that such a device, a non-rotating row of blades, had properties in itself, and if I employ non-dimensional factors, and put in two factors that are linked to the mass flow and to the deviation, but without dimensions, there is a representative point that may displace itself when you vary the flow. I demonstrated that theoretically when you employ those non-dimensional factors, the representative point theoretically displaces it along a straight line. That’s it. That’s very useful because if you know one point or two points of that line, you know the whole thing.

Abbate:

The whole thing.

Bidard:

Yes. That was really a finding, and so was this one.

Abbate:

Number 3.

Bidard:

Number 3, yes. Because at that time, 1946, when I found that area, it was very difficult to know when a compressor was overcharged or not. How could you explain that? When you have a compressor, of air, say, and it is running, it has a certain flow, a certain pressure at the exit. If you make that pressure grow by a diminishing a section of the exit, at a certain moment the compressors refuse to work. But it wasn’t really understood how, why, and so on, you see? People said this became a receptor, the representation of the pressure against the flow. The flow is that way, and the pressure is that way. When you diminish the flow, the pressure goes up. People said that when the receptor is that way, you cannot explain why, because it wouldn’t arrive that way. I finally made the calculations and found that you had to take care of the mass... the accelerations in there, and all that. It is a dynamic process, not a static process. Finally, I found that you can be stable even at low flow, with the maximum of pressure. The phenomenon of instability is in reality the compressor beginning to go up and down. It’s along a curve that is related to the Poincaré work and related to the fact that you get two partial differential equations, with coefficients that are not constant. Poincaré, who studied those equations, showed that when it comes to this, and the things begin to oscillate that way, they will turn around that curve, a limit curve. It was a phenomenon that became classic in that way.

Abbate:

So this theory explains why they become unstable so you can build them and not have them be unstable?

Bidard:

Yes, that’s it. Ah, but this may interest you. I spoke of Mr. Davier? I had to give the speech when he was named at the academy; it’s number 3.

Abbate:

Oh, I see.

Bidard:

In ‘48, he was named at the Academy of Sciences, and I gave the speech. It may interest you. If you want, I can give you the transcript.

[break in recording]

Abbate:

You figured out how to turn all of the heat into work instead of just some of it?

Bidard:

Yes, but finally I discovered that the second law of thermodynamics wasn’t well understood at all. Because people thought that it was impossible to transform the totality of the heat of a fuel into mechanical work. That's quite false.

[End of tape one, side two.]

Bidard:

But, when you speak of a fuel, what you get with the fuel is not actually heat; it’s chemical energy. If you burn it anyway, without care, you make heat, and then Carnot applies. But it is possible to let the chemical reaction produce in a reversible way, and then Carnot doesn’t apply. And that is a thing that is almost never understood.

Abbate:

What is the application of that?

Bidard:

The application is that when you speak of energy, you must absolutely have that in mind, especially when you speak of devices that work at very high temperatures, where the chemical reaction may be in an equilibrium. You let it change, but not too quickly. Taking care of each step of the diminishing temperature, you get the whole of the energy which never, never becomes heat. It is transformed in mechanical energy, directly, without any irreversibility, and it is very interesting for chemical reactions, if you can really run them in such evolutive equilibrium. Finally I designed the cycle where one can demonstrate that effectively; you transform the whole of what we call the heat of reaction, which is not....

Abbate:

Has this been applied or is this still theoretical?

Bidard:

It’s theoretical in the way that generally you cannot run a chemical reaction with irreversibility because nothing on earth runs irreversibility. But it’s very important to make a judgment of things, you see, but I have much difficulty to, and recently I had to write a review, and that’s the subject, you see.

Abbate:

So it’s still current. So this is number 23. This is desalination, taking the salt out....

Bidard:

Desalination, I worked a lot on that. Because we had a little company, or operation that had that job.

Abbate:

Oh. So you did a lot of different....

Bidard:

Lots of different things. And this is a study I made on thermodynamic cycles.

Abbate:

Number 34.

Bidard:

You see, this is the gas tubing with helium for very high temperature atomic energy. This is one of the cycles we studied for the MHD.

Abbate:

Ah, figure 9.

Bidard:

I reviewed all the possibilities of the cycles there. Comparison of two turbines of the same power. This is with steam, and this is with Freon 21.

Abbate:

Figure 15. Why, what’s....

Bidard:

Because it’s at the exit, the heat, the steam.

Abbate:

Oh, right, so it takes more.

Bidard:

This was a big study. This one is magneto hydrodynamics. This is how it works.

Abbate:

Number 42.

Bidard:

This is how the whole thing is. But, I have things in English too. This was on the entropy of mixing gases.

Abbate:

Number 40.

Bidard:

Here, I explain all the work we have done at Siemens, and this is the most seclusive. Here, this is under magnetic flux. This is where the liquid turns, and there it is compressed, because the height of the wall, the duct, is diminishing, so it is compressed, and there is the place where the bubbles go in, and here the mixture expands, and produces active current. So you see the pumping is done by electrical means. The liquid is always under magnetic flux. And this works well.

Abbate:

That was number 51?

Bidard:

Ah no, this is a study I’ve made for the giant IAEA, International, in Vienna. They had to know about efficiencies and so on; they were not quite in the right thing. [laughter] So I have made this study in English.

Abbate:

Number 52.

Bidard:

Here you find some photographs, I think. Ah yes. This is the main type. If you want a photograph, it is 55.

Abbate:

All right, number 55 in this, figure seven.

Bidard:

The nice photograph, this is the generator that is taken out from the magnet.

Abbate:

Oh, so this is the same one in the figure...

Bidard:

The same in figure B, yes.

Abbate:

So the liquid’s going around...

Bidard:

That’s it. And you see this is sodium. That is because the sodium isn’t liquid at the normal temperature; it becomes liquid at [unintelligible] degrees. Then there it is solidified. The left side of the diagram. A very difficult test. Because with sodium, you know, you must take care.

Abbate:

Why?

Bidard:

It burns by itself This one, ah. This is in English.

Abbate:

Which one is this?

Bidard:

It’s number 58. That is an explanation; do you want it? It’s an explanation in English.

Abbate:

Sure.

Bidard:

This is also in English. This was in Amsterdam, Oregon.

Abbate:

This is number 60.

Bidard:

I can give it to you if you like. This one I had to give in Beijing in 1974.

Abbate:

More pictures.

Bidard:

This picture is... you see how many horses there are? They are transporting a low pressure rotor from a steam turbine. Only 18 megawatts from the project in St. Denis, in 1911. It took 36 horses.

Abbate:

That’s figure 1.

Bidard:

I speak also in English in here. It’s in English.

Abbate:

Which one is this? This is number 64?

Bidard:

64. My theory of thermodynamic cycles.

Abbate:

You’ve been in the power industry a long time. I don’t know how many years, sixty years or something. How has it changed over your career in electronics and power?

Bidard:

Ah. It changed much, but finally not so much.

Abbate:

What’s that mean?

Bidard:

I mean the scale of production of energy has changed, of course, but probably not as fast as it had before. In France, the fact that the production is completely by atomic energy, and completely in the hands of one producer, ADF, has the political effect of normalizing very much. Finally, things don’t change very often. The scale of the machines is actually 1300 megawatts; it was at 1000 before, and that’s not so much more, you see. The technique doesn’t vary very quickly, either. In the main production of electricity, the temperature of the cycle of the steam is always the same, and so on.

Work philosophies; theory

Abbate:

It sounds like you really enjoyed working on these problems. What did you find the most satisfying to work on?

Bidard:

When?

Abbate:

What types of things did you like to do -- be in a lab, working hands-on on a big generator, or teaching? What were the things that were most fun?

Bidard:

That’s difficult to answer. I’m satisfied by the way things worked. I like to work, that’s all. [laughter] Yes. But actually I am most interested in theoretical things, what is in the universe, the big bang and so on. I hope I’ll be able to understand how things work, but it’s always very interesting to read what is printed on my subject. Actually, I found the works of Hawking, and also Penrose, and I follow things in thermodynamics, too. There has been much progress made, especially by men like Prigogine.

Abbate:

Who is that?

Bidard:

A well-known thermodynamical...

Abbate:

Theorist?

Bidard:

He’s a Belgian.

Abbate:


Is there anything else you’d like to cover that we haven’t talked about?

Bidard:

Well, what shall I say? What concerns me is that in some domains the progress is really very slow. The progress in the minds of people, I told you about the second law of thermodynamics, which really is not well understood. Not at all. I don’t know why. It should be completely evident.

Abbate:

Do you think the basic theory is lacking, or that nobody understands it, or that the understanding is not widespread?

Bidard:

Both. Probably people are not critical enough about themselves. They accept things like that; they don’t see exactly. They don’t criticize their own minds, probably.

Abbate:

In terms of advancing the field...

Bidard:

Yes.

Abbate:

Do you think it’s more of a theoretical problem than a technological problem in terms of what’s holding people back?

Bidard:

Yes. I speak of theoretical problems, and most people don’t question the fundamentals of their knowledge, because they just accept it as the knowledge of every person. But really sometimes you have to question some things. It’s difficult, it’s hard, but you must do it. As you cannot do that for many things, the choice is very important. You must have a feeling that really, something is wrong. What, you don’t know, but something is wrong in your mind, and you must then criticize yourself. But you must choose, because you cannot put everything in question.

Electricity development in France and Europe; governmental roles

Abbate:

Interesting. It seems like politics at several points kind of affected the development of electricity in France. Do you think that’s still a problem in terms of, does the government keep companies from doing work that they could be doing, or...?

Bidard:

I think personally, that the actual politics in techniques cannot endure very much longer. I mean a steady state in progress that we actually have, will certainly necessarily change someday. Actually, in France, in France. And I think it’s quite right. All the work goes on safety. Safety for the nuclear plant. It’s quite right, quite right. But economically, it’s costly, and probably one day it will be understood that such progress in safety must be accompanied by progress in, price, or in efficiency. Balance between price and efficiency has to flow. It’s awful if you imagine that the actual efficiency of a steam cycle for a nuclear reactor is not higher than the efficiency we had for the fuels maybe fifty years ago. We get back to the efficiency we had fifty years ago, for the cycle of heat, et cetera. But, when I speak like that, you see, you don’t imagine that we can change things, especially temperature and pressure for efficiency, or even change the fluid and so on. Things that are actually run are too big, too costly, and things cannot change.

Abbate:

Because they’re not building new power plants?

Bidard:

Yes, we do. There’s actually two or three more. Yes. But we are still using about 75 percent of nuclear power for electricity generation. 75 percent is nuclear, and of course, we have hydroelectric too. We have also tidal, so probably we cannot go more than 70-80 percent.

Abbate:

Has the European Union changed the power industry in France?

Bidard:

Not much.

Abbate:

Do you think there will continue to be separate power industries in all the countries, or do you think they’ll work together more?

Bidard:

I think that it depends on the strategy, and probably if you think of another strategy that would have been possible in each country, we could have had representation of all the other countries and industries. I mean a factory from say Siemens or in the technical environment of Siemens, or from the English people or something, but things have evolved differently. It’s not our fault; I have told you how the CEM has disappeared. CEM was a good representative of that strategy. Now, it’s too late. Each country has its representative, but at home they compete. Why not? But Europe is not necessarily that way. Probably it makes things a bit more difficult, because you have the national preference, and so on. The idea of a completely free market is very distant.

Abbate:

Certainly in energy, yes. All right. Well, I think we can wrap that up unless there’s anything else you want to add.

Description of projects and publications continued

Bidard:

Well, maybe we will go on with this list.

Abbate:

Your publications.

Bidard:

This has to do with the famous hydrogen energy.

Abbate:

Oh, this is number 72.

Bidard:

Hydrogen energy.

Abbate:

I’m not sure I really understand what thermalysis is.

Bidard:

The question is to make hydrogen. Because many people thought at a certain time that the final solution for energy should be, would be, hydrogen.

Abbate:

For fusion?

Bidard:

For any purpose. With hydrogen you can make electricity, you can make chemical reactions, you can make cars run, you can make everything.

[break in recording]

Bidard:

And then people said, "The only way is to produce hydrogen, and to put it in pipes the same size as those used for gas, and go on with that." For the chemists, it was always a question of the second law of thermodynamics. [laughter] They said "We can make hydrogen the best way, because we have to furnish the heat content of the reaction, by splitting water...".

Abbate:

So the chemists wanted to do this thermalysis....

Bidard:

At very high temperatures the water splits. You take off the oxygen on this side, and the hydrogen on the other. They said that this was the only way to do it. The economical way. My company asked in the meantime, "What shall we do? Shall we try to electrolyze it, or should we help the chemists to do their job?" I made a study, and I discovered that the chemists were really not aware of the second law of thermodynamics. Once more, because what they needed was not really the heat of the reaction; they needed to put in the process, the energy sufficient to split, and if they were, if the heat is too low in temperature you need much more heat, and but to see that you must know exactly the whole process. That’s it, number 72. This other one is in English.

Abbate:

75?

Bidard:

Yes.

Abbate:

So is that the same kind of problem? Energy conservation?

Bidard:

75, the same idea. This one is probably the best one for you, yes, for you or for others. This is on the energy of chemical reactions; it’s in English. That’s also in English. Heat pumps.

Abbate:

This is 78, that one.

Bidard:

Yes, 78’s in English too. But it’s especially heat pumps. You know, I’ve worked on many different things.

Abbate:

And that’s 82.

Bidard:

This is MHD once more. This is probably a new idea....

Abbate:

This is 91?

Bidard:

How to make it emit, when you have many processes in about the same place, chemical and metallurgical and so on. For each process you generally have some heat that is lost at different temperatures. All the processes that need heat lose it at different temperatures, and the idea is to put all that in a net so you can recover heat from one to the other. But you needed to have elliptical net transformers to change the voltage. You need to connect your different sources of heat, heat that is not given but taken at different temperatures. You needed to transform the temperatures, to put a sort of transformer to change not the voltage but the temperature.

Abbate:

Is that the whole system?

Bidard:

Yes. How to do it. And this is the CEM story.

Abbate:

Number 101. May I keep this?

Bidard:

Of course; you may keep whatever you wish. Oh this is also probably interesting.

Abbate:

Number 102. What’s energetics?

Bidard:

Energetics. It’s a new word.

Abbate:

It’s new to me. [laughter] What’s it mean?

Bidard:

It means that when you deal with this question of thermodynamics, generally you speak in an old language, speaking of heat and work. It’s not a good way to express it, because work and heat haven’t the same values. You cannot completely transform heat into work, although you can very easily do the contrary. But there is another way to speak of things: it’s to split the heat into two parts, one which is completely transformable into work, and the other that isn’t, and never can be. If you do that, as we do in finance, you have an input-output and so on, and you make balance and so on. You have exergy and energy, but those are the two parts of the heat I’ve spoken of.

Abbate:

So, is the exergy the part that can be transformed into work or the part that can’t be?

Bidard:

Can be.

Abbate:

And the energy can’t be.

Bidard:

As Prigogine has stated in a law, this has to do with the energy which is nothing else than entropy, finally. Here I show that to maximize the cost of any process, the best thing to do, of course, is the energetical cost. Taking care not only with the consumption of energy, but also taking care on investments. You make an economical study, and this means working against the consumption of energy. For that you must compare the investments with the capitalized cost of energy. If you do that, you finally come to the best solution. Prigogine has shown that speed has to do with energy consumption. You may easily imagine that effectively if you speed up a process, all the losses will go up too. When you put more velocity anywhere, you have also more losses and so on. And if you exchange heat, if you have a higher temperature gap, you also have more heat going through. Prigogine has put that in equations, and shown that it’s a general law. It doesn’t apply everywhere. Sometimes you have losses that don’t have the effect of putting more projection, you see. But when it applies, then you can have a very easy calculation, and not having to make the economical study step by step you can directly tell what will be the best thing to do. It’s what I say in that paper. This one is in English too. It was done with ice, and it’s number 102. Well, that’s all. Let me hand you a written list of what I think are the most important things.

Abbate:

All right. Thank you very much for giving me this interview.