Innovating to meet the challenges of the energy transition
RICE paves the way for the future and envisions the networks of tomorrow
GRTgaz’s Research & Innovation Center for Energy - RICE - was created in 2018. As well as performing R&D for GRTgaz, RICE carries out R&D services for other industrial partners, mainly in the fields of gas infrastructures: transport, distribution, gas storage, LNG… Its goal is to pave the way for the future, break down technological barriers, and drive the transformation of energy infrastructures towards a secure, efficient and carbon-neutral future.
RICE and its employees combine cutting-edge skills and expertise with equipment and test facilities that are unique in Europe, in connection with its ecosystem of European and international R&D partners. Its tasks include:
- Clarifying the future and the R&D challenges facing GRTgaz and its external customers,
- Designing, managing and carrying out R&D projects,
- Providing operational support and innovative solutions for a wide range of activities linked to gas operations and the development of biomethane, hydrogen and other renewable gases.
RICE also provides its customers with modelling tools to monitor for example the integrity of facilities and materials, to model hazardous phenomena, or to simulate the operation of the network... These softwares can be adapted to users’ specific needs, with RICE’s experts (Nota : modifier aussi la version FR)providing the necessary training.
In 2020, RICE had a portfolio of 74 families of patents and more that 400 Intellectual Property titles relating to gas transmission, storage and distribution. Its teams are spread over two R&D sites located at Alfortville and Villeneuve-la-Garenne.
At the beginning of 2020, RICE successfully oversaw the first hydrogen injections produced by Jupiter 1000, the first French industrial-scale Power to Gas* generator located at Fos-sur-Mer.
In 2018, committed to the energy transition and convinced of the importance of R&D in adapting gas infrastructures, RICE designed FenHYx – an R&D platform project dedicated to hydrogen. This platform is intended to ramp up the process of adapting infrastructures to renewable gases and hydrogen. Eventually, it will even replicate the functionalities of gas networks, allowing for tests to be carried out under conditions of pressure, temperature and hydrogen concentration (0-100%) that are close to real operating conditions. RICE’s goal is to develop unique expertise and test facilities that are adapted to renewable gases and hydrogen, to facilitate their development in Europe and around the world. FenHYx will start its activities in the second quarter of 2021. It will be one of Europe’s first R&D platforms dedicated to the impacts of hydrogen on gas infrastructures.
"GRTgaz uses its research centre, RICE, to declare its ambition of placing innovation, R&D and support for the sectors at the heart of its energy transition initiatives."
Innovation at the heart of GRTgaz’s strategic priorities
Innovation is one of the key values underlying GRTgaz’s core purpose. Its strategic importance led to the creation of the Innovation Department in June 2020.
For several years now, the internal innovation policy has revolved around a strong participative dynamic and day-to-day professional support to strengthen the culture in this area. Innovation also gives rise to a wealth of exchanges with GRTgaz stakeholders. The company is connected to external innovation ecosystems to predict expectations and develop new offers. The Open Innovation Factory is where this process takes shape.
Many projects have come out of this innovation process. For example, the “gas booster” technique. This clean, innovative solution avoids the environmental impact of atmospheric gas emissions by purging a section of the pipeline – a process that involves drawing gas from the downstream section and redirecting it to the upstream section.
The Open Innovation Factory: a participative innovation process
Since 2016, GRTgaz has opened the doors to its participative innovation process with the Open Innovation Factory. Its aim is to find innovative operational responses to technical or cross-functional issues encountered by the GRTgaz business lines, and to enable their implementation within the company.
For the edition launched in 2020, the six challenges related to:
- Managing the effects of alternating currents on the GRTgaz network,
- Purifying high-pressure synthetic gas,
- Detecting the corrosion of overhead pipelines using “smart” coatings,
- Remote detection of any gas leaks on the network,
- The realism of simulated safety exercises for our gas facilities,
- Predicting any potential movements in the pipelines when performing cuts during connection operations.
The participants – VSEs, SMEs, startups, mid-caps, laboratories, schools, etc. – were asked to put forward their ideas on specific topics.
The winners then had the chance to implement their solutions within GRTgaz and to connect with other players in its innovative ecosystem (competitiveness hubs, incubators, clusters, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, etc.).