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  • Integrated Transformation of Renewable Matter (TIMR)

    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 objec­tives of TIMR are: to deve­lop, vali­date and imple­ment the know­ledge and know-how inten­ded for the pro­cesses and reac­tions of trans­for­ma­tion of rene­wable material.

    The unit's research acti­vi­ties are part of scien­ti­fic and tech­no­lo­gi­cal issues, and cur­rent socie­tal issues rela­ted to the opti­mi­za­tion of the use of resources and the rene­wal of indus­trial pro­cesses in connec­tion with a sus­tai­nable deve­lop­ment approach.

    Research teams and thematics

    TIMR's research acti­vi­ties revolve around 5 teams with com­ple­men­ta­ry skills and the Che­mis­try and Green Pro­cesses Chair of Excellence:

    • Micro­bial acti­vi­ties and bio­pro­cesses (MAB)

    Cha­rac­te­ri­za­tion, moni­to­ring of micro­bial acti­vi­ties in com­plex natu­ral and indus­trial envi­ron­ments, and control of bio­pro­cesses via a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­na­ry approach.

    • Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion In Che­mi­cal Engi­nee­ring (EPICE)

    Par­ti­ci­pa­tion in the desi­gn and deve­lop­ment of indus­trial pro­cesses with the constraints of mini­mi­zing envi­ron­men­tal impacts and control­ling indus­trial risks.

    • Inter­faces and divi­ded envi­ron­ments (IMiD)

    Mas­te­ry of the beha­vior of com­plex dis­per­sed sys­tems in the pro­ces­sing and sha­ping pro­cesses, inter­face phe­no­me­na, beha­vio­ral pro­per­ties of divi­ded solids.

    • Orga­nic Che­mis­try and Alter­na­tive Tech­no­lo­gies (OCAT)

    Alter­na­tive tech­niques for syn­the­si­zing new mole­cules from bio­mass, clean and eco­no­mi­cal syn­the­sis pro­cesses, valo­ri­sa­tion of bio­mo­le­cules and bio­ba­sed materials.

    • Agro-indus­trial tech­no­lo­gies (TAI)

    Mas­te­ry of bio­mo­le­cule extrac­tion and sepa­ra­tion pro­cesses, imple­men­ta­tion of uncon­ven­tio­nal phy­si­cal trans­for­ma­tions, emer­ging trans­fer inten­si­fi­ca­tion processes.

    • Chair of excel­lence in che­mis­try and green processes

    The objec­tive of the chair is to ampli­fy the inte­gra­tion bet­ween che­mis­try and pro­cess engi­nee­ring through a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­na­ry approach favo­ring the deve­lop­ment of inno­va­tive processes.

    Research projects and partnerships

    • Invol­ve­ment in many part­ner­ship research pro­jects with aca­de­mic labo­ra­to­ries in France and inter­na­tio­nal­ly: euro­pean pro­grams Marie Curie Actions (Ini­tial Trai­ning Net­works), FUI pro­jects, pro­jects sup­por­ted by the Hauts-de-France Region and the FEDER, by the Indus­tries and Agro-Resources com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness clus­ter, by ADEME, by Sor­bonne University…
    • Strong invest­ment in the Invest­ments for the Future pro­gram, as part of the Ins­ti­tute for Ener­gy Tran­si­tion PIVERT (Picar­die Inno­va­tions végé­tales, ensei­gne­ments et recherches technologiques).
    • Impor­tant com­po­nant of acti­vi­ties in rela­tion to com­pa­nies, in pat­ner­ships with large groups (Are­va, groupe Avril, Maguin, L'Oréal, Nest­lé, PCAS, PSA, Saint Gobain, Sano­fi, SIAPP, Sofra­lab, Sol­vay, Tereos, Veo­lia, Weyl­chem…), research orga­ni­za­tions and EPIC (CEA, CETIM, IFPEN, INERIS, ITERG, Terres Inovia…), but also SMEs (Aaqius, Meta­rom, CCL…) and start-ups (SAS PIVERT…).
    • Active par­ti­ci­pa­tion in many net­works and research groups such as: ANCRE and AllEn­vi alliances, ANSES, SFR Condor­cet (FR CNRS 3417), Euro­pean Fede­ra­tion of Che­mi­cal Engi­nee­ring, GIS Soli­me­tha, Socié­té fran­çaise de génie des pro­cé­dés, Socié­té chi­mique de France, Socié­té fran­çaise fluide-par­ti­cules, pro­gramme MOCOPEE, actions COST…

    Zoom on 2 projects

    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.

    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 and documentation

    Contacts de la recherche à l'UTC

    Direc­teur du labo­ra­toire TIMR
    Kha­shayar Saleh
     +33 (0)3 44 23 52 74
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