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WHAT IS THE ROLE OF FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH AT IFPEN?

«IFPEN dedicates around 30% of its R&I budget to fundamental research programs in order to build the library of scientific knowledge required for the development of innovations for the energy transition. This research, often conducted within a collaborative framework, is located at levels 1 to 3 of the TRL* scale: from the observation and description of basic principles to proof of the principal functions and/or characteristics of the concept,» explains Éric Heintzé, IFPEN's Scientific Director.

* the TRL or Technology Readiness Level scale evaluates the degree of maturity reached by a technology up to its integration in a complete system and its industrialization. It is made of nine levels.

TRL scale
TRL scale

FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH, THE BUILDING BLOCK FOR FUTURE INNOVATION

IFPEN’s fundamental research programs are aimed at producing knowledge, concepts and new methodologies to support IFPEN’s entire innovation process.

Fundamental research thus represents a cross-functional bedrock the purpose of which is to address scientific questions associated with the development of new products, as well as to anticipate future requirements. Each year, IFPEN’s Scientific Board contributes to, and makes recommendations for, the development of fundamental research programs and their evolution. 

IFPEN’s fundamental research activities are managed and coordinated within a structure hinged around nine cross-functional scientific challenges, underpinned by working groups involving several research divisions (“scientific challenges” groups). This dynamic organization makes it possible to identify the scientific challenges associated with the development of our innovations at an early stage, and to specify research strategies, pool resources around common problems and foster cross-fertilization. It also makes it possible to reinforce creativity potential, thereby reducing the time and costs involved in the emergence of IFPEN’s future innovations.
 

The incorporation of renewable ocean energies into IFPEN's R&I programs illustrates this fertile continuum between prospection activities, fundamental research and innovation.
 

OCEAN ENERGIES AT IFPEN: FROM FORECASTING TO INNOVATION

Convinced of their potential, IFPEN has been investing in this field since 2008, capitalizing on long-established expertise in offshore oil production and automobile control. Early work focused on forecasting, along with technical and strategic studies. The idea was to identify the most relevant technologies that should be given priority in IFPEN's activities.

In January 2011, a first R&I program was launched dedicated to offshore wind power and ocean energies, with a focus on floating wind turbines. In 2012, projects on wind turbine control and wave energy conversion control were launched. These projects employed methods developed within the context of the fundamental research program concerning system optimization and control (challenge 7).

In parallel, IFPEN has become a recognized player in the wind power sector within the French and European research systems, via its participation in various collaborative projects and structures. For example, it contributed to the creation of the French institute for the energy transition (ITE) France Energies Marines as well as the Ancre program group dedicated to Ocean Renewable Energies (OREs). IFPEN also contributes to several ANR, French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe) and European projects, in order to overcome the scientific, technological and economic challenges hampering the growth of OREs and propose innovative solutions for the development of the corresponding industrial sectors.

Over the course of time, IFPEN has thus built up a level of credibility and visibility enabling it to establish partnerships aimed at the industrialization and marketing of products. More than 20 patents have been filed and several software solutions marketed.

 

Energies marines

 

Key figures 

More than 600 scientific publications and conference papers
30% share of fundamental research in R&I activities
1,115 engineers and technicians dedicated to research

Contact

Éric Heintzé

  • Scientific Director, IFPEN