Liten is a major European research institute and a driving force behind the development of the sustainable energy technologies of the future. The institute is spearheading the EU’s efforts to limit dependency on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in three key areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency/storage and development of materials.
Our platforms, sophisticated tools for industry & the scientific/technical infrastructure/expertise to overcome technological hurdles
Liten's research teams work across a vast portfolio of renewable energy technologies. Cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies are developed at INES, the French National centre for solar research and R&D with Hydrogen and Biomass activities being managed from the LITEN's main site in Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes.
“Radically improving energy efficiency will reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposure to fuel price volatility, increase energy affordability for low-income households and cut local and global pollutants improving consumer welfare” Source OECD Energy report, 2014
From nanosecurity, nanocharacterisation,and anti-counterfeiting technology to the development of advanced materials and point of sale: a comprehensive offering.
Transverse activities help add value to our technology portfolio. An optimised modeling and characterisation model, for example, can help reduce time to market. Browse this section to find out more....
Bioresource-based energy: from energy vectors to molecules of interest
Since 2011 Liten has been working on recycling very wet biomass—which contains more than 50% moisture—into energy or chemical molecules of interest. This biomass includes organic waste from the farming and food industries, urban waste, microalgae, and other high-moisture-content material that is not frequently recycled. And the benefits are both environmental and financial.
Hydrothermal liquefaction, a bio-oil manufacturing process that leverages the moisture contained in organic waste to liquefy the material at high pressures and temperatures (30 bars to 200 bars and 250 °C to 350 °C).
Supercritical gasification, which takes place above 374 °C and 221 bars; the result is a combustible H2/CH4/CO2 gas blend.
These processes make use of both the organic and mineral components of wet biomass. However, several obstacles to industrial scale-up remain, one of which is cost (due to the need for high-pressure treatment, for example). The waste-to-energy industry is shifting rapidly, and these technologies are bound to play an important role.
Our researchers are developing pilot units for potential industrial applications. In 2015, a pilot continuous-liquefaction unit with a capacity of 2 liters/hour was built, enabling our labs to go beyond research previously conducted in closed autoclave-type systems. The process was successfully tested on microalgae and fruit residues from the food industry. The next step will be to test the process on other bioresources. Liten’s in-depth knowledge of processes under pressure, chemistry and petrochemistry (oxidation, hydrolysis, oil characterization), and analytical techniques have been crucial to this research.
Recycling wet biomass can help companies boost their bottom line while reducing their impact on the environment
Recycling wet biomass generates high returns—in terms of both environmental impacts and costs—and resources are in ample supply. In the farming and food industries alone, 20% of global production is wasted.
Hydrothermal liquefaction is high-yield and the energy produced is of a high quality. It also makes optimal use of resources. The reaction produces little residue and the water contained in the resource is used as the reaction medium. The process is therefore energy-efficient and offers better recycling of carbon-containing waste material.
The process can also be used to make high-added-value molecules that have the potential to substantially improve industrial facility profitability.
LiqHyd is researching ways of recycling fruit residues using hydrothermal liquefaction. Liten is expanding experimentation to fruits other than the blackcurrant, grape, and olive waste tested until now. The project also involves the Drôme Chamber of Commerce, A3I, and IRCELyon and is funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR).
Diesalg focuses on bio-oil production via hydrothermal liquefaction of microalgae at high pressure and at temperatures of around 300 °C. The oil obtained boasts an excellent higher calorific value. The process applied to microalgae offers real potential since algae grows 40 times faster than land-based biomass and offers very high yields. Liten is working with several industrial partners (GEPEA, Algo Source) on microalgae projects. Diesalg is funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR).
Vasco 2, which also involves Liten, aims to recycle the CO2 produced by plants in Fos-sur-Mer (near Marseille) by growing marine microalgae. The microalgae are transformed using hydrothermal liquefaction, producing refined raw materials for the bio-based chemical market. It is funded by the French National Energy Agency (ADEME).
Enerlig is looking at ways of recycling black liquor—a waste product from pulp and paper processing—using hydrothermal liquefaction or gasification. The process achieves higher energy yields than the leading evaporation-combustion process and produces molecules of interest like phenols, which manufacturers can use to make resins, glues, and plastics. This process can increase profitability in the paper industry, where 10% to 15% of process residues can be used to produce high-added-value molecules. Liten is working in conjunction with the Grenoble Institute of Technology Pagora Pulp and Paper Engineering School on this project, which is funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the Instituts Carnot.
Two patent applications in progress on the hydrothermal liquefaction technique
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.