Innovation and research are two sectors which have been developing significantly in Dunkirk for several years.
Research and projects in industrial refrigeration
Innovation and research are two sectors which have been developing significantly in Dunkirk for several years. The construction of the LNG terminal in Dunkirk’s Western Outer Harbour contributed to the creation of Innocold, a refrigeration institute which brings together businesses as well as private and public laboratories on the theme of large-scale industrial refrigeration.
Fields of expertise: Energies, Energy Efficiency and Industrial Ecology
Dunkirk has often acted as a pioneer in terms of energy innovation: infrared thermography since 2004, France’s first wind farm in 1996, and so on. The area continues with its initiatives and is now home to the “EuraEnergie” centre of excellence and innovation which is active in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency. This is a real advantage which associates Dunkirk with the regional platform CEA TECH, a centre dedicated to innovation which will benefit the region’s industries. Since 2013 the area has also had an Environmental Research Institute (IRENE) which federates five of the Region’s higher educational establishments and is associated with the CNRS (French Centre for Scientific Research). Research and development are also enriched by the projects of the private sector. TOTAL, for example, has just launched the BioTfuel project at its Dunkirk site. The aim of the BioTfueLindustrial pilot is to convert lignocellulosic biomass such as straw or forestry residue into biofuels by a thermochemical process. The goal is to develop a complete chain of processes to produce second-generation biodiesel and biokerosene. Similarly, Lesieur, which has two industrial facilities in Dunkirk, has set up its two main laboratories here as well as a design office, in which the firm produces its new recipes and develops new processes.
In another recent innovation, the SME Terraotherm has developed the Terrao water-air exchanger, the only one of its kind in the world. Terrao’s efficiency opens up new prospects in the fields of low-consumption heating, air-conditioning and moisture control and allows businesses and local authorities to make energy savings of between 60 and 70%. Terraotherm has received many awards, and several firms and local authorities have decided to use their innovation.
Hydrogen, another vector of development
In 2010 Dunkirk Urban Community was the first municipality in France to host a hydrogen station, which became a national pilot. The project, called Althytude and coordinated by Engie, was designed to test the operation of buses running on Hythane®, a mixture of 80% natural gas and 20% hydrogen, in order to assess its technical and economic advantages. This fuel currently supplies 50 town buses in the Dunkirk area and will also be used to heat a new “ecozone” district of 200 homes in Cappelle-la-Grande. The aim of this project, known as GRHYD, is to assess and validate the relevance of a new source of energy composed of a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas.