Skip to content

13/03/2024 News

Fluid management: innovating to reduce our environmental footprint

Interview with Charlotte Drouilly, a Treatment Engineer at TotalEnergies in Pau, and the brains behind some new solutions.


If I start by saying "Charlotte Drouilly, you're an innovator", what does that mean to you?

Innovation is at the heart of every project at TotalEnergies, and the Company provides a number of resources to encourage us and help us learn and share knowledge. It might be inhouse conferences where we can discuss and present our ideas among engineers, researchers and technicians, or international scientific seminars that we are lucky enough to attend on a regular basis. It’s a way of us finding out about what our peers are working on, and for us to make our own projects known.

 I see being "an innovator" or being innovative as having the capacity to identify, develop and deploy new solutions to a given problem. I don’t work on a project alone of course. I like being surrounded by diversity, multiculturality, people from different professional backgrounds, etc. These differences mean that we don’t all tackle a problem from the same angle, and yet we are able to move forward together, to achieve the same aim, using complementary perspectives.

I consider myself to be persevering and audacious, I listen to others and I’m caring Kindness is something you need in innovation, because you end up saying a lot of stupid things when you’re looking for a solution to a problem: you can start out with the worst idea in the world, to finally end up with the most suitable one.


We’re witnessing a massive drop in the number and percentage of girls taking scientific subjects at high school. What would you say to encourage a young girl to follow this type of career path?

To me, diversity is very important, and that’s why we need young women to study scientific subjects. I was actually a very inquisitive child, asking "Why? How does it work?" are questions I often asked, without having a firm idea of what kind of studies I wanted to do. I really enjoyed sciences, and after a Scientific Baccalauréat, I went on to study a Bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry, and then a Master’s in material chemistry. I was lucky to have female professors who inspired me. They encouraged me to continue on to a doctorate in heterogeneous catalysis applied to refining bio-molecules.

Generally speaking, there were many more boys than girls in lectures. Rather than talking to young girls, I’d speak to their parents and ask them to give them something other than dolls to play with! I used to play a lot with construction kits, that got more and more complex. They helped me develop a logical way of thinking and got me used to using all my skills to achieve an aim, and to try and understand things to acquire new competencies. Actually, in my education and professional career, it never occurred to me to think that I couldn’t do this or that because I’m a woman.

I work with men a lot on a daily basis, almost exclusively in fact. Little by little, more women are starting to work in our professions and I’m glad, but there’s still a long way to go!


What does your job entail as a Treatment engineer at TotalEnergies and why is it important for the Company?

Doing a PhD was a wonderful opportunity to find work, and also one that helped me learn what the scientific process to finding an answer to a given question is, and it’s a method that can be applied to any topic. I began my career at TotalEnergies as an R&D engineer in heterogeneous catalysis for refining in Belgium.  Next, I worked for a while in Procurement here at the CSTJF, to develop both business and technical expertise. Then I went on to work on a production site in Qatar.

In my current job in Pau, I work on fluid management. It can be water, oil, gas or even carbon dioxide when it comes to storage solutions. My main subjects are "Hydrate" and "Drag reducer", which consist in facilitating fluid flow in pipelines to save energy and limit our environmental footprint by reducing CO₂ emissions.

For this project, we are using known technologies, but the innovative aspect is that we have used them differently to apply them to different conditions. We started by having them tested by our technicians in the laboratories at the CSTJF on pilot units that reproduce our operating conditions on a smaller scale. Then the team discusses and debates on the results. Once the solutions are validated, we test them on site at full scale.

It’s important, because in the Company, we have ambitious aims in terms of reducing our carbon footprint and saving energy. This type of project fully contributes to TotalEnergies’ ambition to provide cleaner, more affordable energy.


You work at the CSTJF in Pau. What do you see as the specificities of this world-renowned center of expertise nestled between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean?

I’m from the Paris region actually, and I came to Pau in 2017. I didn’t particularly entertain the thought of coming to the CSTJF, simply because I didn't know about it. It was a really pleasant discovery though - both the way the site is set out like a university campus with lots of trees and greenery, a magnificent view of the Pyrenees (when it’s not raining), and the fact that the R&D teams are close to each other, including those at the PERL, so we can work seamlessly and efficiently. It’s important on a daily basis. My job is intellectually demanding and stimulating and there are always new topics to investigate, I never get bored. I’d like to continue to specialize in my research areas with new challenges to benefit the Company.

Personally speaking, I’ve settled down well in Pau. I have three young boys who are learning to ski and are happy to grow up in the Béarn region.