Located a few miles away from Pau, Lacq's Research Center (PERL) was created more than 50 years ago to support the challenges linked to the discovery of the Lacq gas field. With 130 people spread over three sites and six hectares, themes of major importance are the core of its activity, in line with the objectives of the Group's climate strategy, such as promoting gas as a transitional energy, fighting climate change and preserving the environment.
The center has developed three fields of expertise: environmental footprint, physical chemistry and analysis and gas separation and treatment. This research work is carried out in partnership with national players such as Université de Pau & Pays de l'Adour, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI) or ENS Lyon and international ones, with the University of Colorado and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
Discover the PERL, Total's Research Center in Lacq
This research unit intends to keep industries' environmental footprint as small as possible. Managing our impacts on water and soil is the spearhead of the PERL, in compliance with regulatory requirements and the expectations of our stakeholders. Research particulary focuses on:
- water treatment (optimization or development of water treatment for oily water, such as BIOMEM, and processes for industrial wastewaters to maximize recycling or preparing them for reuse;
- soil and groundwater remediation (characterization, treatment and monitoring of soil and groundwater as part of industrial site management and rehabilitation);
- impact management (development of pertinent ecological monitoring and characterization techniques that can also predict environmental impact so as to anticipate developments in regulations – in particular those aimed at “zero biodiversity impact” of discharge waters);
- microbiology of ecosystems (managing the latest molecular biology and bioinformatics analysis tools to use microbial communities as biomarkers).
The experimental resources of the PERL for this unit include:
- some thirty pilot units ranging in size from a few milliliters to several cubic meters;
- a network of 16 pilot rivers;
- an experimental platform ADyCHATS equipped with 20 piezometers (Aquifer Dynamic CHAtacterization Tools System);
- a DNA sequencing and radio-respirometry laboratory;
- a raceway of 4 m3 for the culture of micro-algae in open basins.
Physical Chemistry and Analysis
This research unit contributes to improving our models through the in-depth understanding of physical-chemical interactions that take place between hydrocarbons, water and solids, from the reservoir right up the production. From Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (CEOR) to production in surface lignes and networks (flow assurance), the PERL teams optimize the cost-effectiveness of current processes and work on:
- physical chemistry of complex interfaces (liquid/liquid, solid/liquid, liquid/gas and gas/solid);
- polymer formulation, with the development of polymers designed to increase the viscosity of injection water to optimize sweep efficiency and boost hydrocarbon recovery factors;
- the development of state-of-the-art analytical techniques, destined to analyzing polymers in solution and spectroscopy of chemical species that affect the interfacial equilibria of complex multiphase samples.
Specific equipment (tensiometers, rheometers, etc.), test benches for studying sweep in porous media or even micromodels are part of the experimental means used within the PERL.
Gas separation and treatment
This research unit looks to reducing the impact of our activities on the climate, especially by fine-tuning viable CO2 capture solutions. The development of new, safe, more efficient and more cost-effective solutions, focusing in particular on compactness and versatility, is the daily life of PERL researchers, in order to respond to increasingly demanding specifications on the quality of our production. Their expertise includes:
- testing innovative solutions for gas separation(design and operation of experimental resources of all sizes & evaluation of new, more efficient and low-energy materials, such as the HySWEET commercial range of solvents;
- custom design of pilot units, to meet the specific needs of R&D regarding various gas and environment related applications (detection, separation, treatment) particularly with respect to toxic cases such as H2S;
- optimizing costs, to respond to the major challenge of reducing the costs (CAPEX and OPEX) of our industrial facilities.
Withing a wide range of pressures and temperatures (from -80 to 200°C, and up to 300 bar), our experimental resources comprise laboratories and large-scale research facilities related to the themes studied (absorption, adsorption, membrane separation, solvent analyses, gas analyses and detection, etc.).