IMT awards the title of Doctor Honoris Causa to Jay Humphrey, Professor and Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department of Yale University

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jayhumphrey_IMT

This prestigious honor was awarded on 29 June at Mines Saint-Etienne by Philippe Jamet, President of IMT, in the presence of many important scientific, academic and institutional figures. IMT’s aim was to honor one of the inventors and pioneers of a new field of science – mechanobiology – which studies the effects of mechanical stress (stretches, compressions, shearing, etc.) on cells and living tissue.

A world specialist in cardiovascular biomechanics, Jay D. Humphrey has worked tirelessly throughout his career to galvanize the biomechanical engineering community and draw attention to the benefits that this science can offer to improve medicine.

Jay D. Humphrey works closely with the Engineering & Health Center (CIS) of Mines Saint-Etienne. In 2014, he invited Stéphane Avril, Director of the CIS, to Yale University to work on biomechanics applied to soft tissues and the prevention of ruptured aneurysms, which notably led to the award of two grants from the prestigious European Research Council:

For Christian Roux, Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation, “With this award the institute wanted to recognize this important scientist, known throughout the world for the quality of his work, his commitment to the scientific community and his strong human and ethical values. Professor Humphrey also leads an exemplary partnership with one of IMT’s most cutting-edge laboratories, offering very significant development opportunities. “


Biography of Jay D. Humphrey

Jay_Humphrey_circleJay Humphrey is Professor and Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department of the prestigious Yale University in the United States. He holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, United States) and a post-doctorate in cardiovascular medicine from John Hopkins University (Baltimore, United States).

He chaired the scientific committee of the World Congress of Biomechanics in 2014, held in Boston and attended by more than 4,000 people. He co-founded the Biomechanics and modeling in mechanobiology journal in 2002, which today plays a leading role in the field of biomechanics.

Jay D. Humphrey has written a large number of papers (245+) which have been universally praised and cited countless times (25,000+). His works are considered essential references and engineering students throughout the world rely on his introductions to biomechanics and works on cardiovascular biomechanics.

He is heavily involved in the training and support for students – from Master’s degrees to PhDs – and more than a hundred students previously under his supervision now hold posts in top American universities and major international businesses, such as Medtronic.

Jay D. Humphrey has already received a number of prestigious awards. He plays an influential role in numerous learned societies, and in the assessment committees of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States.

Intelligence booklets: new confidence equilibria, between algorithms and the social contract

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Les nouveaux équilibres de la confiance, entre algorithmes et contrat social IMT

The 9th publication in the series of the Fondation Mines-Télécom intelligence booklets addresses the transversal theme of confidence in the digital age.

Written over the course of a series of events in partnership with NUMA Paris and with the support of the Foundation’s major corporate partners, the booklet questions changes in the notion of confidence and highlights current research being carried out in IMT’s schools in the field.

Cybersecurity, blockchains, digital identity… In 27 pages, the intelligence booklet offers readers the opportunity to take a step back and examine hot media topics in order to question the foundation of our interactions and uses: confidence, which is currently being transformed.

In the first section, it examines the notion of trust and establishes a multidimensional definition. In particular, it differentiates ‘confidence’ linked to the social context we live in, from ‘trust’ which is played out on an individual level. This second form of confidence is very important in the digital economy, where confidence tends to be reduced to a calculation of risk, to the detriment of our ability to know when to trust.

In the second section, the booklet examines changes in confidence in the digital age. More particularly, it presents blockchain and introduces the associated notions of protocol, consensus and proof. As well as giving examples of uses in the fields of health, personal data and privacy, it provides an economic perspective and raises the question of how to make confidence a new common commodity.

It concludes with a third section in which humans are the central focus of reflection, addressing issues of governance, transitivity of confidence, confidence networks etc. New equilibria are being established and articulations sway between social consensus and consensus by algorithm.

This intelligence booklet, written by the independent expert Aymeric Poulain-Maubant, has benefitted from contributions from research professors at the IMT graduate schools: Claire Levallois-Barth (Télécom ParisTech), Patrick Waelbroeck (Télécom ParisTech), Maryline Laurent (Télécom SudParis), Armen Khatchatourov (Télécom Ecole de Management) and Bruno Salgues (Mines Saint-Etienne). The Foundation’s partner enterprises, and in particular Accenture, Orange, La Poste Group and the Caisse des Dépôts, have also shared their expertise.

A public conference on confidence in the digital age will be independently organized by Fondation Mines-Télécom in partnership with the Caisse des Dépôts, which is a partner of the program. Between now and then, a series of popularized scientific articles on the work of researchers at IMT’s schools will be published on I’MTech, IMT’s Research & Innovation blog, over the summer.

Download the press release

 

Double-degree agreement between IMT and Georgia Tech

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Accord de double diplôme entre l’IMT et Georgia Tech

A double-degree agreement was recently established between IMT and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA). The agreement will allow students from IMT’s schools to obtain an MSc from Georgia Tech in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering or Mechanical Engineering in addition to their master of engineering.

In the meantime, students from Georgia Tech will be able to obtain a national masters diploma (international DNM) awarded by the IMT schools. Georgia Tech is among the world’s top technology institutes (ranked in the top 10 in the USA and the top 50 internationally, all categories included).

“Georgia Tech’s motto of ‘Progress and Service’ reflects that of IMT, which is ‘useful excellence’” explains Michel Pavageau, Director of International Relations at IMT.

Like IMT, Georgia Tech is a university with a strong international presence. Its European campus, Georgia Tech Lorraine, is based in France and it has also developed activities in Asia (Shenzhen, Singapore) and Central America (Panama).

Lastly, Georgia Tech is also very active in the field of MOOCs, and the institute already proposes an entirely online Master of Science (Online Master of Science in Analytics). The program is available in collaboration with edX, of which IMT is a member. The field of MOOCs, in which IMT is also a leader, is one of the areas of collaboration that IMT and Georgia Tech will shortly be exploring together. The two establishments already exchange on research matters.

IMT– Philippine delegation meeting

Délégation philippine à l'IMT

On June 7, Philippe Jamet (President) and Michel Pavageau (Director of International Relations) welcomed a Philippine delegation composed of Ms Patrica B. Licuanan, Chair of the CHED (Commission on Higher EDucation, which is directly attached to the office of the president of the Philippines), Ms Rapunzel Acop, Second Secretary and Consul at the Embassy of the Philippines in France, Mr Jules Leconte, Academic Cooperation Officer at the Embassy of France in the Philippines,  Mr Ivan Rakocevic, Deputy Manager for Asia at Campus France, and representatives from 6 universities in the Philippines.

The following subjects were addressed during the meeting: student mobility leading to qualifications between universities in the Philippines and the IMT schools, IMT’s eligibility for funding to support mobilities at master and doctoral level in the framework of the K to 12 program, exchanging experiences, contribution of expertise and supporting the Philippine government in the current reform of its higher education system.

Developments will soon follow this visit.

A MOOC for learning the basics of digital manufacturing

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MOOC s'initier à la fabrication numérique

This MOOC is the first part of a “Digital Manufacturing” program created by IMT in partnership with MCD and Makery.info. It is funded by the Ile-de-France region with support from the Department of Paris.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE MOOC

Four weeks to understand how digital manufacturing is revolutionizing the production of objects.

3D printers and numerically-controlled laser cutting machines give everyone the possibility of manufacturing their own objects. They can also be programmed and connected to the internet, enabling a quick transition from idea to prototype, thereby allowing their creators to become entrepreneur makers. This rapidly growing sector is giving rise to new professions.

 

An inside look at FabLabs

This MOOC will give you the opportunity to take an inside look at FabLabs to help you understand the basics of digital manufacturing. Through collaborative workshops, you will discover the technology, methods and professions that make it possible to produce the objects of the future such as connected devices, prosthetic hands, furniture and even prototypes for electric cars.

At the end of the MOOC, you will be able to :

•    describe what a FabLab is and what it can be used to do
•    describe how to create an object with a numerically-controlled machine
•    write and run a simple program to program an object
•    explain how to make the transition from prototype to entrepreneurial project

Prerequisites

This MOOC is an introductory MOOC. Basic knowledge of digital tools is recommended (email, web browsing, word processing).

Partners

The “Introduction to Digital Manufacturing” MOOC is co-produced by IMT (with support from the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation), MCD and Makery.info. It is funded by the Ile-de-France region and the Department of Paris. As part of the “ParisCode” and “Digital technology for career training” calls for projects, a group of thirty jobseekers will participate in this MOOC in conjunction with FabLab workshops and will receive a certificate of acquired skills from IMT at the end of the course.

Statements of Completion

Statements attesting to the successful completion of the course are issued by FUN to learners who successfully pass the evaluations.

Courses begin May 23 !

OFFICIAL LAUNCH
By the Paris City Hall on May 30, 2017
à 9h chez Draft Ateliers
12, esplanade Nathalie Sarraute, Paris 18

MOOC teachers :

MOOC s'initier à la fabrication numérique

 

This MOOC is carried out with the support of the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation and the Mines-Télécom Foundation

MOOC s'initier à la fabrication numérique

 

Fondation Télécom has become Fondation Mines-Télécom

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Fondation Mines-Télécom

IMT, which was extended when the Mines schools joined the Institute and further consolidated on January 1st, 2017, is supported in its remit by Fondation Telecom, which has also undergone a statutory change to become Fondation Mines-Télécom, by decree of February 28th, 2017.

The Foundation thereby broadened its scope of action to include support for all the management and engineering graduate schools within IMT (IMT Atlantique,[1] IMT Lille Douai,[2] Mines Albi-Carmaux, Mines Alès, Mines Saint Etienne, Télécom ParisTech, Télécom SudParis and Télécom Ecole de Management), and has become a powerful lever for the Institute in its cross-cutting projects focused on the transitions of the 21st century: technological, energy, industrial and educational.

Building a powerful network around the IMT

On the strength of its network of around sixty partner businesses and 700 individual donors in 2016, and with strong roots at the heart of the IMT ecosystem, Fondation Mines-Télécom has the ambition to build a powerful collective around the Institute in order to assist it in its new 2018-2022 strategic plan, through concrete transformative projects to further its missions in Training, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Financing IMT’s major projects

Fondation Mines-Télécom will support IMT’s major collaborative projects that are of benefit to all its schools, such as the MOOC program, the “Prêts d’honneur” program available to the school’s incubators, or the open-innovation project baptized First, as well as the Institute’s new cross-cutting programs, most notably related to the industry of the future. The Foundation will also support more targeted patronage schemes for each school: chairs or support for campus development, such as the new campaign for naming spaces on the new campus of Télécom ParisTech in Saclay, recently launched by the graduate school.

Fondation Mines-Télécom will be setting up its new Supervisory Board in June. It will integrate new administrators from the Mines “galaxy” who will steer the roll-out of the newly expanded Foundation’s action plan, as part of its Ambition 2020 campaign.

“The creation of Fondation Mines-Télécom represents a seamless transition within a genuine, self-sustaining dynamic. After the merger of the Mines and Télécom entities, then the consolidation of Institut Mines-Télécom-IMT which now encompasses 8 schools, it was obvious that the creation of an IMT collective needed the support of a foundation with a broader scope of action, including patronage for the benefit of this new collective. While public funding covers the cost of premises, wages and overheads, the development of patronage will offer IMT substantial additional resources to achieve its goals of excellence in training, research and innovation, and to carve out a place for itself among the leading global higher education institutions. Additionally, IMT will be able to develop long-lasting partnerships to bolster its ties with economic stakeholders and its alumni. This is the perspective that our Ambition 2020 embodies.

Guy Roussel, President of Fondation Mines-Télécom

Download the press release

 

 

Revolution in the energy market: The European SEAS project wins the “ITEA Award of Excellence for Innovation and Business Impact”

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Equipe-SEAS

The Smart Energy Aware System (SEAS) project brought together industrial and academic partners from 7 European countries over a 3-year period. The goal was to allow all stakeholders in the electricity market to interact in real time with consumption and production systems in order to optimize overall energy efficiency. Coordinated by Engie, whose key academic partners include IMT, SEAS won the excellence prize at the Digital Innovation Forum 2017 in Amsterdam on May 11th. This prize acknowledges the relevancy of the innovation in terms of its impact on the industry.

The SEAS project is redefining the energy market

Our energy networks are evolving and now require the deployment of new decentralized and intermittent production means, storage solutions, and systems for the intelligent measurement and control of consumption and production. They present new constraints and opportunities that must be integrated into the architecture of current energy networks.

SEAS provides the energy community with solutions enabling these services to be understood and combined in order to interact and contribute to improving the overall network performance.

How ?

Usage of semantic web technologies allows the user to adopt language that is clearly understandable to machines (known as ontology) in order to describe capacities, properties, exchanged data as well as different types of interactions between the objects and services in the network.

The SEAS ontology can understand and match the main standards used in the fields of energy, machine to machine dialogue, the Internet of things, electric vehicles, smart homes and smart buildings

Consequently, the job of adapting objects or services that are already compatible with at least one of these standards is significantly reduced. Additionally, an object or service belonging to a domain can communicate and interact with objects or services in other domains.

This harmonization work allows for more fluid exchanges and results in faster attainment of a critical mass of participants.

Secondly, SEAS has developed an original architecture adapted to the current and future organizational forms of energy networks. It does not force participants to transmit information via a central platform that would, de facto, constitute an authority on information exchanges. It also offers mechanisms allowing low-power network nodes to dialogue using the semantic formalism recommended by SEAS.

Lastly, the SEAS project adopts an open innovation approach. The ontology and architecture documents are open-access on the site https://www.the-smart-energy.com. They are also undergoing a standardization process with the W3C, the OneM2M consortium and the ETSI.

What new skills and stakeholders ?

SEAS brings digital solutions that will pave the way toward energy intermediation markets. By presenting this award on May 11th, ITEA considered that the project had created and demonstrated innovations that are vital to the emergence and development of the energy services market.

Stakeholders that are able to process information and offer the most satisfactory combinations of services will be in a great position in the future. Will the current energy giants be able to carve out leading positions, at a time when the main digital players are seeking new opportunities to harness their technology and expertise?

Innovation driven by IMT and its partner Armines

Several researchers from a number of IMT’s graduate schools (IMT Atlantique, Mines ParisTech, Mines Saint-Etienne, Télécom ParisTech and Télécom SudParis) have made significant contributions to the SEAS project.

Amongst these contributions are two major innovations. IMT Atlantique committed to the development of IT architecture that enables the retrieval of individuals’ consumption data in order to better adapt the distribution of energy over the network. At the same time, Mines Saint-Etienne applied its knowledge of web semantics for standardized communications between machines speaking different languages.

Partners of the SEAS project

Armines, Answare, Asema Electronics, BeNomad, CEA, CNR, Clipsol, Defne, Ecometering, Ecro SRL, EKE Finance, Engie, Empower, Enerjisa, Evoleo Technologies, Foreca Oy, Fortum, GAC Group, ICAM, ISEP, ITRON, Innova, Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT), Kerlink, LNL Elektrik Elektronik Bilisim ve Danismanlik Ltd. Sti., Planet Media, Soltech, SimBT Inc., Siveco Romania SA, Ubiant, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, University of Girona, VTT, Virtual Power Solutions SA.

To find out more about the SEAS project:

https://www.the-smart-energy.com

 

Download the press release

New Directors for IMT Lille Douai and Mines Albi-Carmaux

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New directors for IMT Lille Douai

Alain-Louis Schmitt has been appointed “Director of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines-Télécom Lille Douai,” for a five-year period, by a ruling of the Minister for the Economy and Finance dated April 12, 2017. By this same ruling, Narendra Jussien has been appointed “Director of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines of Albi-Carmaux” for a five-year term starting on May 1, 2017.

Alain-Louis Schmitt, the new Director of IMT Lille Douai, succeeded Daniel Boulnois on May 1st, 2017.

Alain Louis Schmitt IMT Lille Douai

“It is with great enthusiasm that I take up the position of Director of IMT Lille Douai, a new model of school, created by the merger between Mines Douai and Télécom Lille, which combines exceptional human potential with unprecedented conditions for inventing and organizing the engineering programs of tomorrow. I will drive this momentum, with support from the entire staff, as I am acutely aware of the historic anticipation with which businesses are awaiting skills combining engineering sciences, digital sciences and technologies and innovations based on world-class research.”

Alain-Louis Schmitt, a graduate of the École des Mines of Douai, has a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Valenciennes University and is a Corps des Mines Engineer. He began his career at the École des Mines of Douai in 1982 as a lecturer (digital control, microprocessors, production control) in charge of mechanics and robotics studies, and then served as head  of the computer-integrated manufacturing department.

Alain-Louis was then deputy director of the École des Mines of Nantes from 1995 to 2002, and also served as Deputy Regional Director for Industry, Research and the Environment for the Pays de la Loire from 2001 to 2002.

From 2002 to 2009, he served as Regional Director of Industry, Research and the Environment for the Lower Normandy Region and was also a territorial delegate for the Nuclear Safety Authority (Caen Division).

In February 2010, he was appointed Regional Director of Businesses, Competition, Consumption, Work and Employment (DIRECCTE) for the Pays de la Loire Region.

He had been the Director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines of Albi-Carmaux since May 2012.

Alain-Louis Schmitt was born on July 11, 1958.

Narendra Jussien, the new Director of Mines Albi-Carmaux, succeeded Alain Schmitt on May 1st, 2017.

Narendra Jussien, a professor of computer science, was Assistant Director of IMT Lille Douai until April 30, 2017 and Director of Télécom Lille from 2014-2016.

Narendra Jussien Mines Albi-Carmaux Carmaux

“Taking over as director of Mines Albi-Carmaux is an exciting, rewarding and challenging task.
This school has a great number of advantages and I am very excited to begin working with the team here. I am fully committed to enhancing the development strategy of this IMT treasure.”

He is a 1994 graduate of Angers’ Institute of Applied Mathematics, earned a doctorate in computer science in  1997 (Rennes-I) and has been accredited to lead research (Nantes) since 2003. After a brief period in which he worked for the General Delegation for Armament as part of his national military service, Narendra Jussien began his career at Mines Nantes (which is now IMT Atlantique) in 1998 as an Assistant Professor of computer science and later served as head of the computer science department. In January 2014, he was appointed Director of Télécom Lille, and remained in this position until the merger with Mines Douai to create IMT Lille Douai on January 1, 2017.

As a researcher, Narendra Jussein has authored some hundred publications and has made a significant contribution to the organization of the French scientific community in his area of expertise by founding the French Association for Constraint Programming. He also created the Choco solver, and continues to contribute to his area of expertise in his role as editor-in-chief of “Constraint Programming and Operations Research” for publishers Hermes Sciences and ISTE/Wiley.
Narendra Jussien is a Chevalier des Palmes Académiques (Knight of Academic Palms), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

He is interested in literature (especially the works of Honoré de Balzac), plays the piano, is an amateur photographer and enjoys cooking. He is also an avid runner in his free time.

Narendra Jussien was born on 01.09.1973.

 

4 years of MOOCs at IMT: an overview of the 2013-2016 period

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4 ans de MOOC à l'IMT 2013 - 2016

IMT recently published its first report on the development of MOOCs in its graduate schools. Since 2013, 25 MOOCs have been created and broadcast on the French platform FUN as well as the American platforms Coursera and edX, with 340,000 enrollments in 170 countries. IMT is pursuing this transformation of its schools’ teaching by developing its series of MOOCs.

MOOCs as a pillar of the transformation of learning at IMT…

…in graduate programs

First experimented in 2013, MOOCs are currently employed in the framework of core curricula in engineering and management courses. There have been 11,000 enrollments by students in our schools.

… and in lifelong learning programs

Mainly followed individually by professionals, MOOCs are increasingly used by companies. They regularly use this kind of flexible training method to train staff members by recommending a MOOC or offering one as a SPOC (Small Private Online Course).

As proof of the interest among patrons in these new training methods, the MOOC titled “Understanding the Collaborative Economy” was developed with support from and in collaboration with the MAIF, while Fondation Patrick et Lina Drahi is currently providing significant support for the development of a MOOC program at IMT.

The 2013-2016 report naturally contains the full list of MOOCs by IMT, as well as a portrait of the typical learner (gender, age, qualifications, location, occupation), information on the use of MOOCs in schools and companies, 3 examples of innovation in MOOCs, and the associated production costs.

“After the pioneering age, IMT is entering the development and professionalization phase. On the strength of our experience over recent years, we wanted to share this overview with the educational community…”

Nicolas Sennequier, director of Digital Learning at IMT

 

 

Gasification, the future of organic waste recovery

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At a time when the challenge of waste recovery is becoming increasingly evident, gasification is emerging as a promising solution. The process allows organic waste to be decomposed into synthetic gas, which can be burned for energy purposes, or reprocessed to obtain gases of interest, such as methane and hydrogen. Javier Escudero has been studying this virtuous alternative to incineration for over eight years at Mines Albi-Carmaux. At the RAPSODEE laboratory (UMR CNRS 5302), he is developing a pilot process for recovering problematic waste, such as non-recyclable plastic materials and certain types of agricultural residue.

This century-old technique is now more relevant than ever. Gasification, which generates combustible gas from carbonaceous solids, such as coal and wood, was popularized in the 19th century to power producer-gas vehicles. They sparked renewed interest during World War II, when they were used to produce synthetic fuels from coal during the oil shortage.

Waste, tomorrow’s resource

In this season of energy transition, researchers are reviving this technique to recover a much more promising carbon source: organic waste! Javier Escudero is one such researcher. His credo? “Waste is tomorrow’s resource.” At Mines Albi-Carmaux, he is working to optimize this recovery method, which is more virtuous than outright incineration. His target materials are forest residues, household waste and non-recyclable plastic materials, etc. “Gasification is used particularly for dry and solid waste. It is complementary to the biological methanation process, which is used more for wet waste,” he explains.

Several steps are involved in the gasification process of transforming waste into gas. The waste, which is preconditioned and dried beforehand, first undergoes pyrolysis in a low-oxygen atmosphere at temperatures of over 300°C. “In these conditions, the energy produced breaks the molecular bonds. The carbonaceous materials separate into gas and solid residue. The following step is the true gasification stage: at 750°C or higher, the water vapor or carbon dioxide that are present complete the decomposition of these elements into a mixture of small molecules called synthesis gas, essentially composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen,” Javier Escudero explains.

This synthesis gas, the basic “building block” of petrochemistry, has proven to be very useful: it can be incinerated, providing a greater yield than the combustion of the original solid. It can also power a cogeneration motor to produce heat and electricity. Finally, it can be reprocessed to produce gases of interest: methane, hydrogen, acetylene, etc… “We can therefore replace one source of energy or fossil material with its renewable energy equivalent,” Javier Escudero explains. It is thanks to this great versatility that gasification provides a virtuous alternative to incineration. However, some optimizations must still be made to improve its economic results.

Thermal recovery for industrial benefit

Javier Escudero has been working towards this goal since his arrival at Mines Albi-Carmaux in 2008. His goal is to identify the best means for enhancing the yield of the process, of which some mechanisms remain relatively unknown. In 2013, one of his team’s publications,1 explaining the respective influences of carbon dioxide and water vapor in the efficiency of gasification, was well received by the scientific community.

VALTHERA, waste recovery here, there, and everywhere

The VALTHERA platform (which in French stands for VALorisation THErmique des Résidus de transformation des Agro-ressources, the Thermal Recovery of Processing Residues from Agro-Resources), is located at the Mines Albi-Carmaux site, and is backed by the Agri Sud-Ouest and Derbi competitiveness clusters. It is a technological platform specialized in the development of highly energy-efficient thermal processes for the recovery of biomass waste and by-products. Its technological offer includes drying, pyrolysis, torrefaction, combustion, and gasification. Different means of recovery are being studied for this waste that is widely available, which would generate energy or value-added materials. Another specific feature of the VALTHERA platform is that it develops a source of solar power intended to power all of these thermal processes and improve their ecological footprint. It also offers high-performance equipment for treating various types of emissions and pollutants. The platform also acts as a catalyst for companies, and specifically for SMEs seeking to carry out research and development programs, demonstrate the feasibility of a project, or generalize a process.

Now, the time has come to apply this research. The researcher and his team are therefore working to develop the VALTHERA platform (in French: VALorisation THErmique des Résidus de transformation des Agro-ressources, the Thermal Recovery of Processing Residues from Agro-Resources). This platform is aimed at developing various processes for thermal waste recovery in partnership with industrial stakeholders (see box). In particular, Javier Escudero and his colleagues at the RAPSODEE laboratory (Recherche d’Albi en génie des Procédés des Solides Divisés, de l’Énergie et de l’Environnement, the Albi Research Centre for Process Engineering in Particulate Solids, Energy and the Environment) are working on a 100 kW pilot gasification process. This process is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2016, and will be a forerunner of final processes reaching up to 3 MW, “a power range that is suitable for processing a small-scale of generated organic waste, which could suit the needs of an SME.” The team is particularly focused on “fixed-bed” technology. With this system, the entire process takes place within a single reactor. The waste is “piled in” from the top, and then gradually goes through the steps of pyrolysis and gasification, driven downwards by the force of gravity, until the synthesis gas is recovered at the bottom of the reactor.

The researchers are working in partnership with the French gasifier manufacturer, CogeBio, to expand the possibilities of this technology. “The only commercial solutions that exist are for wood chips. We are going to assess the use of other types of waste, such as vine shoots,” explains Javier Escudero. Eventually, the project will expand to include other sources, such as non-recyclable plastics, still in connection with solutions industrial stakeholders are seeking. “Today, the processing cost for certain types of waste is negative, because the demand to get rid of this waste is greater than the processing capacities,” the researcher explains. In terms of recovery, the synthesis gas will first be burned for energy purposes. Based on the different partnerships, more ambitious recovery processes could be implemented. A top process of interest is the production of hydrogen: a high-value-added energy carrier. All of these valuable initiatives are aimed at transforming our waste into renewable energy!

Curiosity: the single driving force

Nothing predestined Javier Escudero to develop gasification in France… unless it was his scientific curiosity. After falling in love with research during an internship at a Swiss polymer manufacturer, the Spanish student began his thesis on polymerization, under the joint direction of a Spanish manufacturer. After completing his post-graduate research on the same theme at the Laboratory of Chemical Engineering – LGC – in Toulouse (UMR 5503), in 2008 he applied for a research position at Mines Albi-Carmaux in the area of waste gasification, a subject that strayed from his beginnings in chemistry.

However, his curiosity and industrial experience combined to bring him success. Eight years later, he is now an Assistant Professor at the RAPSODEE laboratory (UMR CNRS 5302)… and extremely passionate about sustainable development. In addition to his daily work on gasification, he is co-organizing the international WasteEng conference (conference on engineering for waste and biomass valorisation), which brings together stakeholders from across the waste chain, from the identification of sources to their recovery.

Editing: Umaps, Hugo Leroux

(1) Guizani, C. et al ; The gasification reactivity of high-heating-rate chars in single and mixed atmospheres of H2O and CO2 ; Fuel 108 (2013) 812–823