• Organic waste, if recovered, could become new sources of energy.

  • Inrae researchers are interested in many of them, such as tomato skins, which are thin, hydrophobic but also very stretchable.

Finding alternatives to fossil fuels.

The challenge seems more than urgent given the current energy crisis.

At Inrae, a French public research organization and world leader on questions of agriculture, food and the environment, we have taken the measure of the challenge to such an extent that we have made it a " strategic priority”.

For several years now, hundreds of researchers have been trying to unlock the secrets of biomass, all this organic waste can become sources of energy, to imagine a new life for them.

In her laboratory in Nantes, Bénédicte Bakan manipulates funny squares of black rubber.

It's hard to say that these are tomato skins, and yet!

"We found that the skins are thin, hydrophobic but also very stretchable," says the researcher.

So we reassembled the molecules to build a modified polymer.”

Or to put it another way, a 100% natural and biodegradable rubber, promising even if "the tomato sauce factories will never be active enough for us to be able to manufacture tires", smiles the scientist.

But the process could be applied to other fruits and vegetables, such as apples, the waste from which is abundant in cider factories or canneries.

Linen fibre, light and resistant

Because this is one of the challenges of the bioeconomy.

Reuse, beyond trees, all agricultural residues to replace petroleum-based products, provided they offer comparable services but also a similar cost.

Among the promising crops but which fails on this second point, flax has interested researchers for a long time.

Firstly because France is the leading producer, but also because it offers "very good fiber quality, comparable to synthetic fiberglass", assures Johnny Beaugrand.

The scientist was also able to prove its good durability by studying fibers that are… 4,000 years old.

"We have therefore developed sails which have the merit of being very light but with great resistance, good soundproofing properties", indicates the researcher.

building sectors,

aeronautics or automotive are very interested, with the tightening of regulations.

For example, a car interior trim should soon see the light of day.

Transforming the enzymes contained in mushrooms into biofuel or flavoring, using the antioxidant properties of animal carcasses to naturally protect food or make cosmetics from it, all research currently underway at INRAE.

Even if "between eight and fifteen years of research can pass between the first manipulations and a product that comes out", its researchers hope to play their part in the race for "zero greenhouse gas emissions" by 2050. .


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