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04/07/2024 News

TotalEnergies and the CERFACS, a strategic partnership

TotalEnergies recognizes the vital importance of strategic partnerships to accelerate its transition to cleaner, greener energy, and buoy up its ambition to become a major player in renewable energies. Such partnerships are particularly crucial when it comes to innovating and accessing new technologies and local or international markets.

The Company - in particular through the CSTJF in Pau - has partnered the CERFACS (European Center for Research and Advanced Training in Scientific Computation) since 2008 and is fully invested in its missions. Created in 1987 in Toulouse, the CERFACS a research, development, transfer and training center for simulation, modeling and high-performance computing (HPC).

Using its resources and advanced knowledge, it tackles extensive scientific and technical problems in public and industrial research. The teams at the CERFACS develop innovative methods and software solutions to meet the needs of the aerospace, climate, energy and environment sectors. It is involved in projects with both national and international reach, and closely liaises with six other partners: Airbus, Cnes, EDF, Météo France, Onera and Safran.


A multi-faceted association , and the only one of its kind

The advantage and specificity of this partnership is first and foremost to pool highly-specialized competencies applicable to our different use cases across the board. It also gives us privileged access to cutting-edge software developed in-house at the CERFACS. Like AVBP parallel code for example (one of the best combustion simulation softwares in the world), used extensively in-house to model combustion in flares, tackle issues related to explosion risks, or thermal runaway in batteries. All CERFACS partners define the CERFACS’ strategic research plan, which is revised every five years.  It is an opportunity to put forward innovative topics that could benefit several of the partners. Being a CERFACS partner also means that the associates benefit from its many connections, in particular with prestigious universities and with other partners, to meet the experimental requirements needed to calibrate and validate numerical model developments.


Significant achievements for all the Company’s activities

The CERFACS recently worked with TotalEnergies’ subsidiary SAFT, a major player in the battery sector, to improve the modeling of thermal runaway. To ensure reliability of safety systems, analyses require good knowledge of battery abusive behavior. The CERFACS expertise on numerical combustion allowed SAFT to deepen this know-how. Battery fires represent challenges for modeling, like complex mixture of gaseous species, complex geometries up to meter sized containers, variable combustion dynamics occurring at different timesteps of thermal runaway. First, following a phase to understand the detailed chemical reactions at play, the CERFACS teams were able to identify the minimal schemes needed to simulate the fire and explosion phenomena using their ARCANE and AVBP simulators. The next step was to take into account the geometry of battery cells and the complexity of scaling-up to incorporate them into the simulation code. Finally, as the simulator results were verified by experiments on a lithium-ion mock-up reactor, SAFT decided to go on to use it for engineering studies!

Another example of current work is the case of flares and minimizing methane emissions, which requires improvements in modeling combustion in large objects in an open environment. At TotalEnergies, we are relying on modeling to deepen our understanding of the combustion mechanisms involved, to determine why a small percentage of the flare gas remains unburned. In keeping with the Company’s ambition to reduce its methane emissions, the flaring process is being scrutinized in-house. Advanced simulation software like AVBP is generally used on objects such as engines, that are relatively small (around a meter) and for which combustion takes place in a closed chamber. When it comes to flaring, the researchers have a real challenge on their hands, as the flame is a mobile object that fluctuates depending on external parameters, so there are a lot of constraints to be taken into account! The AVBP software requires some development so that it can simulate this type of system.

Given the cross-functional, fundamental competencies in advanced simulation available at the CERFACS, many other avenues for collaborative work are emerging. These include studying the effect on climate change of the nitrogen oxides (NOX) generated when SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) - a biosourced fuel used by the aeronautical industry, is burned.  Other simulations are also easy to imagine, such as planning controlled burning combined with monitoring by remote detection to help protect forests from spontaneous fires, or to reinforce our research actions based on HPC and quantum computing, etc.