P.I.V.E.R.T. – Picardy Plant Innovations, Teaching and Technological Research is a cross-disciplinary project financed by many stakeholders including several universities, public resource outlets, and industries such as Sofiprotéol, Solvay, Maguin, PCAS, and SNC-Lavallin. On June 6, the French Government granted funding of 64.25 million euros to this innovative research and training center to be paid over a ten year period. P.I.V.E.R.T. will involve more than 150 researchers, engineers and teachers.
It will also become the first European center designed to transform oilseed biomass from whole plants like sunflowers into renewable chemical products for numerous applications like food, cosmetics, and construction materials. Its areas of research will include thermal treatment of biomass, catalytic chemistry, and industrial biotechnologies. P.I.V.E.R.T also has educational projects and will create numerous opportunities such as training, vocational degrees, and e-learning.
P.I.V.E.R.T. will be an example of industrial ecology. The by-products of some industrial activities will serve as starting materials for others. Both energy and water will be recycled. This future plant material refinery will utilize local agricultural and forest resources from the Picardy region, thus enhancing the value of its agriculture and industry.
P.I.V.E.R.T is following other agricultural firms such as “Agro-Industries Research and Developpement” (ARD). Created in 1989, ARD initially focused on the repurposing of starchy plants, and is now an expert on plant transformation.
ARD aims to remove and purify plant extracts through a process called plant fractionation. This process has numerous applications, including the production of subtracts for first and second generation ethanol, the development of compounds for green chemistry (pentose), and the isolation of substances for food supplements and cosmetics (protein by-products).
The firm is also experienced in the development of processes that produce molecules from plant substrates made from the fractionation of crops. These molecules have commercial potential in the cosmetics, chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industries.
Both P.I.V.E.R.T and ARD are integrated bio-based industries and specialists of the design of products (surface active molecules, solvents, polymers, materials, etc.) according to the principles of green chemistry and sustainable development.
ARD recently announced the success of green production in isobutene laboratories, which has numerous applications like plastics, elastomeres and fuels. ARD and its partners will start the development of an industrial pilot in July 2013. Chosen by the French General Commission for Investment, this project will be financed by 5.2 million euros in public subsidies over a 3 year period.
The French “Investment for the future” program.
The 69.5 million euros P.I.V.E.R.T and ARD received are part of a 35 billion budget program launched by the French Government and known as the “Investment for the future” program. It aims to give a boost to innovative projects and encourage French productivity, competitiveness and employment.
The 35-billion-budget is split into five strategic fields and managed by the General Commission of Investment which selects the beneficiaries of the program.