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19/03/2024 News

A sustainable energy transition with the Methascale project

Biogas, the product of degraded organic waste in anaerobic conditions, is a renewable gas mainly composed of methane and carbon dioxide. It’s an essentially local market, and one in which TotalEnergies has rapidly gained ground, particularly in southwest France. Its BioBéarn methanization unit in Mourenx is the largest in France and has a maximum capacity of 160 GWhs.
The Company firmly believes that biomethane has a role to play in the energy transition, in terms of both the decarbonization of natural gas and mobility. And, when it comes to biogas, the Béarn is the place to be: today, TotalEnergies’ Pau Site (PERL and CSTJF) is a real R&D center of expertise in this sector for the Company.

Spread across the two centers, a dedicated team carries out innovative programs covering different technical aspects of the biogas sector. Drawing on robust local partnerships, particularly with the UPPA¹, ARVALIS and the APESA², the Company’s researchers benefit from an environment conducive to innovation and synergies.

"The Methascale project, co-funded as part of the 'Graine de l’ADEME' program³, embodies a dynamic and fruitful local partnership in the biogas sector that will ultimately produce interesting results for the entire industry. This project is a joint initiative between major local players such as APESA, ARVALIS, TotalEnergies and INRAE-LBE and will be taking us on an exciting journey over the next three years." explains Cecilia SAMBUSITI, Biogas Project Manager at TotalEnergies’ CSTJF.

The aim of this productive partnership is to compare the biological, energy, and agronomic performances of laboratory pilot tests carried out at the APESA, INRAE and TE compared to those of industrial scale biogas plants such as the MétA platform in Montardon and our BioBéarn unit.


Different test stages

Before or while operating a biogas facility, tests are essential to optimize production, improve the sizing of our biogas plants, optimize their yield, and assess the agronomic quality of the digestates. They generally consist of biological methane potential tests and pilot tests.

  • The biological methane potential test serves to estimate the biogas/methane production of each feedstock in routine operating conditions (Patm⁴, T°=0°C). It is commonly used in the pre-project phases, particularly during the reservoir and pre-feasibility study. However, this system cannot be used to identify synergy effects between substances, inhibition effects, to imitate the real daily production of a biogas unit or to obtain a representative digestate.
  • Pilot tests (from a few liters to several m³) are a more accurate reflection of how the process operates in our industrial biogas unit, as the same operating parameters are applied. These tests are generally used to simulate the biological stability and energy performances of the future industrial plant in the assistance phases, during start-up of the biogas plant or when the feedstock is changed.

Agronomic tests are also conducted to assess the digestates produced at different scales. The project and the results of these tests will be presented at the biogas JRI (Research Innovation Days) held from March 26 to 28, 2024 in Pau. The event is organized in partnership with the CTBM⁵, the APESA, ARVALIS, the UPPA and Téréga and aims to promote dialogue between the stakeholders in the biogas and biogas sector. It will be an opportunity to share the progress made in research, feedback, and new ideas to support the development of a tailored sector in France.

For a detailed overview of the Methascale project, take a look at the video created with our partners:

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ADEME’s Methascale project (in French)


Find out more about:


¹ The University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour
² Technology center for transitions
³ French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management
⁴ Atmospheric pressure
⁵ National technical center for biogas and methanization