Integrated Transformation of Renewable Matter (TIMR) - EA 4297

The team behind "Integrated Transformation of Renewable Matter" (TIMR) stands at the crossroads between practice and knowledge in process engineering and chemistry, and is oriented towards the objective of value-adding to agro-resources, in an overall strategy of sustainable development. Given its range of activities, the UTC-TIMR Lab is an integral partner in the world class competitivity cluster IAR (Industry and Agro-food resources).

Objectives

This research team associates the skills and know-how of UTC in process engineering and those of the Compiègne based École Supérieure de Chimie Organique et Minérale (ESCOM) in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering.

The fact that the two institutions are on the same site in the city of Compiègne led in 2007 to the creation of the first so-named European Pole for Green Chemistry (ITE PIVERT).

Research Teams and Thematics

The TIMR research teams examine molecule synthesis, product formulations, materials and specialties, transformation, conservation and treatment processes, material implementation and shaping, risk issues for the emerging associate industrial sectors.

  • microbe and bioprocess activities

  • interfaces and divided milieus

  • agro-industrial technologies

  • chemical transformations for renewable matter

  • thermal and catalytic transformations

  • risk prediction assessment in emergent industrial sectors

UTC-TIMR Lab is an integral partner in the world class competitivity cluster IAR (Industry and Agro-food resources) and is developing numerous projects with other UTC laboratories, its academic partners in France and abroad.

ANR project

SICMO relates to development of a miniature continuous operation reactor made of silicon carbide, heated in a micro-wave oven enable researchers to have a rapid and safe implementation for high temperature chemistry.

ITE PIVERT, in the EU Genesys programme

The aim is to make an eco-compatible synthesis of bio-sourced Di-Vinyl Glycol for the purpose of supplying an original, creative and environmentally friendly solution for the synthesis of Di-Vinyl-Glycol from glycerol using acrolein (or propanol), thus avoiding the manipulation and storage of this highly toxic intermediate compound.

The aim is to make an eco-compatible synthesis of bio-sourced quinolone, for the purpose of supplying quinolone derivatives from glycerol using acrolein (orpropanol) and the Skraup strategy, thus avoiding the manipulation and storage of the acrolein, a highly toxic intermediate compound.

The research carried out in the framework of the EVALBIORAF project provides models and other generic tools, to optimize a future bio-refinery (in terms of costs and pollutant emissions), assessment of its environmental impact and associate industrial risks and hazards.

AMPHIPRED - development of a bio-refinery operating with oil-bearing plants as the source should lead to the identification of new molecules, lipids and amphiphiles (BDLs - benzenediol lactone scaffolds) to meet certain specific needs.

MetaLipPro-PL1 constitutes a knowledge acquirement phase that will enable the research teams to improve and complete our knowledge about lipoid metabolism for plants and for yeasts. Another aim is to establish the bases for the purpose of developing a pilot platform for lipid production and extraction.

French Government DGE programme

PSPC project

VALODIM, to identify optimal values for digestates obtained fop methanisation processes, and with the objective to 'structure' a national industrial sector for digestate valorization plus creation and organization of local ecosystems for the production of organic fertilizers.

Eco-industry project

PEIGAS: the objective targeted here is to avoid use of toxic raw materials using plant glycerin and intensification of the preparation processes, thereby reducing effluent and waste volumes.

FUI Project

GreenWax has as its objective to identify a plant-based substitute for mineral paraffin, with sufficiently generic characteristics that it can be used in numerous industrial applications (candles, food-stuff, plant-grafting wax).

Picardie Region projects

MOTAMORPHE focuses on powder caking, especially for those containing amorphous matter. Generally speaking, caking corresponds to a spontaneous, gradual unwanted build-up of a compact, coherent mass starting from an initially separate grain composition. Caking is often irreversible and difficult to predict.

D.E.HT relates to the analysis of the effects of high voltage discharges in complex liquid milieus and examining the possibility of transferring the process to a continuous pilot system. The scientific challenge here concerns the following: to better understand the main action mode of electric discharges; to study the impact of secondary physical phenomena in these electric discharges in relationto de-structural damage to cellular tissues: shock waves, cavitation, turbulence; to understand possible synergies between physical, chemical and electric phenomena when an electric discharge occurs and to assess their impact of treatments. Pre-treatment using electric discharges proposed in this project allow for technological and qualitative evolution of processes used to extract bio-molecules.

RADIAN: dust-induced explosions are of concern throughout the cloth industry and indeed represent a societal issue. The programme RADIAN has already demonstrated that for many types of particles, the flame in the dust cloud propagates as if it was in a gas and this alone has contributed to real progress in terms of explosion prevention. But again, for other types of particle, the explosions do not obey the same laws of physics. There are strong clues that it is the preeminence of radiated heat - a fact largely ignored till lately - that is the cause. The objective of the RADIAN project is to specify the exact role of radiation in dustinduced explosion phenomena.

Bio-refineries

Could plants save the chemical sector ? This is the challenge addressed by the bio-refinery that is going to be built in the framework of the Pivert project (acronym in French for Picardie Plant Innovations, Technological Teaching and Research), which has become the only ITE (Institute for Excellence in Carbon-free Energies) under the recent Government programme called "Invest for the Future", specialised in plant chemistry on a national scale (France). "The idea is to replace molecules that have their origins in petrochemical industries by plant molecules and, at the sametime, to imagine new processes that require less energy input thanks to the plants used and through studies in stoves that burn plant residues", said Daniel THOMAS, former Vice-President of the Science Council and Professor at the Enzyme and Cell Engineering Laboratory (GEC) at UTC.

The research work at UTC focuses on oilbearing plants (colza, sunflowers, flax...). The company Sofiprotéol has already made investments in a second generation biodiesel refining unit, at Venette near Compiègne, precisely where the Pivert platform is being assembled. This new installation uses whole plants and not just the grains of colza or sunflower. Daniel THOMAS pointed out that "ARKEMA, RHODIA, SOLVAY or CHIMEX the chemical division of L'OREAL, i.e., the big names in French chemistry are already present on the site".

"We are going to study and work with the plant itself, from an agronomic stand-point. How, for example, can we encourage a plant to produce more (and other) attractive molecules such as branched fatty acids, close in structure to unsaturated fatty acids that can therefore be used as lubricants, waxes or plasticisers". Another line of research will be on the specific techniques employed at the site (subcritical water, electric fields and microwaves) used to separate the constituent parts of the plants. "We are also going to look at possibilities offered by catalysis and bio catalysis (using enzymes) in order to consume less energy to transform the plant."

The project will also use the property of self-assembly that characterises lipids to create biodegradable nanostructures or invent new formulae that prove attractive to the cosmetics industries. Pivert will also include a more global industrial ecology approach. A bio refinery must prove to be a place where a rational use of raw materials must be demonstrable : using proximity energy sources, recycling all wastes into new energy sources or indeed into new products.

Methanisation

Manure is gold, so we say, or rather a source of electricity. The UTC Laboratory- Integrated Transformation of Renewable matter (TIMR), headed by Maurice Nonus proposes a flexible methanisation process for French farmers. Methanisation, we recall is the process whereby organic matter is converted into biogas (CH4) is not at all a revolutionary discovery as visitors to marshlands and stagnant waters can witness 'Will of the wisp'.

On site methanisation is highly developed in German farms. More than 7000 farmers feed the methane convertors with manure they collect from their livestock and other vegetable waste ; these are large-scale units. The methane produced in sufficient quantities to become the prime mover for a combustion motor coupled to a generator. "Some of these farmers have even given up the breeding/raising activities and cultivate crops that they feed directly and completely to the converters, for example, maize, and are now classified as industrial electricity and heat producers". In France, we haven't reached this stage yet. EDF buys back the electricity produced in this 'private' manner but the authorities have not yet issued permits to cultivate plants solely for the purpose of generating electricity via methane converters.

"What we have here (and are offering) is a modular, mobile concept" says Maurice Nonus. The methane converter looks like a traditional transport container. The farmer fills it with manure, etc., with a single 30 tonne load, and closes the convertor for nature to take its way. Methanisation occurs only in a closed milieu. "Our work consisted of integrating in the converter various devices to wet the contents, initiate the methanisation, warm the juices produced, measure, analyse and extract the methane. The farmer then only has to programme the production cycle to suit his schedules." The methane collected is delivered to a burner driving a motor coupled to a generator for the electric final output and the heat recovered also in the process can be value-added, both energies providing for extra income to the farmer who exploits the process. The 'ultimate' wastes are spread in the fields.

What attracted the farmers was the financial gain possible. "In order to break even, and have a positive income, you have to start with around 70-100 heads of livestock". The investments can be adjusted accordingly, buying extra converters as appropriate. Inasmuch as the process sequesters the methane, it also contributes to reducing the GHG effect (NB - methane is a strong GHS).

Contact

Directeur du Laboratoire TIMR
André Pauss
Contact by email

La Recherche à l'UTC

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