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Scientific partnerships

The CSTJF and PERL carry out numerous research programmes with local partners: universities, schools, associations, etc. Some examples:

The Béarn region at the heart of the Company’s Biogas R&D activities

Biogas, the product of degraded organic waste, is a renewable gas mainly composed of methane. The market is essentially local, and one in which TotalEnergies has rapidly gained ground, particularly in southwest France. In the Béarn region, an R&D ecosystem focused on biogas and anaerobic digestion started to develop in the 2020s with the research teams of the TotalEnergies Site in Pau. Today, the PERL and the CSTJF represent a real R&D center of expertise dedicated to this sector: a team of 10 engineers and technicians conducts different programs covering all the technical aspects of methanization: new feedstocks, processing and marketing of the co-products including the digestate and biogenic CO₂. 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 for this, the Béarn is the place to be: the local fabric is particularly conducive to synergies and collaboration.

The TotalEnergies Biogas R&D teams are drawing on the BioBéarn anaerobic digestion unit and the local ecosystem to foster interactions that encourage innovation. In addition to our historical partnerships with the UPPA (the University of Pau and the Adour region), particularly the departments of the IPREM (the Institute of analytical sciences and physico-chemistry for the environment and materials), we stepped up our partnership with the APESA and its sustainable development technical center in Montardon through a framework agreement effective in 2024. On the Montardon site, we will also benefit from the expertise of ARVALIS and the future  MethAPlateforme, which will be running a 150-m³ methanization demonstrator.

There is currently very little data concerning the reproducibility and transferability of results obtained from a biogas laboratory pilot to an industrial unit. The three-year Methascale project will bring together key local players: the APESA (Association for the environment and safety in Aquitaine), ARVALIS - Institut du végétal (Plant institute), the INRAE (National research institute for agriculture, food and the environment) and our multi-energy Company. The aim of the project is to compare the upscaling of 5-30-liter laboratory pilots, using a 150-m³ experimental unit, through to an operational industrial unit (BioBéarn). The factors of comparison include:

  • Biological stability parameters (volatile fatty acids, ammonium, alkalinity). 
  • Biogas production (volume and composition). 
  • Agronomic quality (plant growth) and ecotoxicity (presence of heavy metals, pathogens, organic contaminants, etc.). 
  • Digestates obtained at different scales. 

Micro-plot trials will also be run on the digestates obtained from the 150-m³ semi-industrial and industrial units. 

The partners will ensure these results are shared via their communication channels, at conferences and during theme days (JRI, ATEE, CTBM, EBA). They also intend to hold a technical day with the different R&D structures of the CTBM to contribute to the drafting of a best laboratory practices charter to be applied throughout pilot tests, which will enhance the credibility of the latter among industrialists and financers.

TotalEnergies and the TEEN Chair 

Our local commitment to the energy and environmental transition.

Through the programs of the societal R&D team, the Company is continuously seeking to improve its activities, particularly by anticipating, performing integrated assessments of, and managing non-technical risks or conflicts inherent to operations. 

In this context, the Societal R&D team of TotalEnergies, based at the CSTJF, is a stakeholder in the actions of the TEEN (Territories in the energy and environmental transitions) Chair to rethink the role played by businesses and territorial players in terms of the energy transition.

The objective of the TEEN Chair, founded in 2018 by the University of Pau and the Pays de l’Adour (UPPA) in partnership with the Pau Béarn Pyrénées conurbation, the Compagnie d’Aménagement des Coteaux de Gascogne (development company for the hillsides of Gascogne), the CNRS, and the TotalEnergies E&P R&D division, is to analyze the tensions currently surrounding the energy and environmental transitions in order to understand them and, where possible, to find solutions.

As a two-way channel for expertise, it proposes tangible scenarios for the successful implementation of all territorial projects.

In partnership with the TEEN Chair, scientific studies were carried out on different technologies developed by the Company in relation to societal issues:

  • The social acceptability of agrivoltaics
  • The social acceptability of offshore wind
  • The social acceptability of lithium
  • The crowdfunding of renewable energies
  • The social acceptability of hydrogen

For the past few months, the TEEN Chair has also been running a study on the social acceptability of electric charging stations.

  • To find out more from the UPPA

Research in 3D printing

Innovate with the expertise of local actors on 3D printing of heat exchangers.

Since 2018, the Jean Féger Scientific and Technical Center (CSTJF) has been conducting research on the 3D printing of heat exchangers* in close collaboration with its regional partners. This research strategy not only showcases expertise and local action, but also significantly reduces the costs generated by studies on additive manufacturing (AM).

Through a series of numerical tests, the R&D teams at the CSTJF and their partners are working on a new generation of heat exchangers, whose shape is the result of mathematical formulas to improve heat exchange: minimal surfaces starting with the Schwarz Diamond (Schwarz D) surface.

The CSTJF has an “innovation Booster” in Pau to lead this project and which operates in “maker” mode, using FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printers to rapidly prototype PLA (Poly Lactic Acid, biosourced and bio-compostable materials) to iterate and validate the heat exchanger design.
The teams also relied on the specific competencies of their local partners:

  • Chloé (a university department working on flow in porous media, funded by TotalEnergies) to produce the design and create the entire exchanger based on mathematical Schwarz D formulas, using the Matlab and Comsol software applications;
  • The IUT in Tarbes, to print the exchanger using laser sintering on a “powder bed”. This produces a Polyamid exchanger to validate the homogeneity of the numerical model — a crucial step before the more costly manufacturing of the metal exchanger;
  • The ENIT (The National Engineers’ School in Tarbes), for the aluminum printing that gives better heat transfer;
  • The Pau IUT (UPPA) Heat and Energy engineering to run tests on a test bed.

Such partnerships contribute to modernizing heat exchangers through 3D printing and to reduce the weight while maximizing efficiency. If the tests prove conclusive, TotalEnergies would be able to use less energy and thereby reduce its CO2 emissions.

*A heat exchanger is a system whereby heat energy from one fluid is transferred to another without them mixing.