Bioenergetics: a component of the energy package

The increase of the world population, the reduction of the reserves in fossil energies and the reality of the climate changes make urgent the search for new energy sources.

The cover of our future energy needs will require the recourse to a package including various renewable energy sources that will not generate gas with greenhouse effect.

Taking into account the quasi-inexhaustible character of solar energy, the domestication of photosynthesis as renewable energy source represents a considerable stake.

The Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives is a major actor in various fields of energy: nuclear, solar, hydrogen, biomass. The capacity of the CEA to develop and innovate is the result of a cross culture engineer-researchers who finds his source in a high level research, essential for the emergence of innovating concepts.

Explore the biodiversity

The aquatic environment conceals many richnesses ; the world of microalgae and the cyanobacteria constitutes a formidable tank of biodiversity hardly explored. These micro-organisms convert, thanks to photosynthesis, solar energy in chemical energy with a great effectiveness. Some of them are able to produce hydrogen or to accumulate lipidic reserves (up to 60% of the cellular contents) by using water, CO2 and solar energy as principal resources. The potential of these micro-organisms makes it possible to consider the set up of clean and durable processes of production of biofuel via their large scale culture.

lipid droplet Chlamydomonas in microscopy Chlamydomonas culture of microalgae

Reveal the biological mechanisms

A major stake of research is to optimize the strains for the energy production (hydrogen, biodiesel…) while basing on the knowledge of the biological mechanisms. Genetics approaches are developed to identify the key genes allowing to steer the cellular metabolism towards the production of molecules with important energy content (hydrogen, lipids).

Recent advances in various fields of biology (genomics, structural biology, metabolomic, genetic,…) bring us today the necessary tools to the domestication of these organisms.

Microalgae screening
High throughput screening of microalgae mutants

A scientific platform of high technology

The purpose of the HélioBiotec platform is to develop innovating research to face up to futur energetic challenges, in close cooperation with academic and industrial partners. The platform comprises high level scientific equipment, including :

Instrumented photobioreactors for the performance analysis of the strains

A research project to the service of a regional policy

The platform of partnership research HélioBiotec was created between 2009 and 2011 at the CEA Cadarache in the Institut de Biologie Environnementale et de Biotechnologie (IBEB) within the framework of a Contract of Projects State Region implying funding of the Fond Européen de Développement Régional (FEDER), the Délégation Régionale à la Recherche et à la Technologie (DRRT), the region Provence Alpes Côté d’Azur and the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA). It has the ambition to be used as point of anchoring for the installation in the PACA region of a scientific and technological pole of excellence on Bioenergy.

More than thirty researchers, engineers, technicians, post-doc and research students link their efforts there to push back the limits of our knowledge in the field of biotechnologies with the service of a durable production of energy.

Located near ITER, HélioBiotec profits of the competences of the CEA (Direction des Sciences du Vivant), the CNRS and the University of Aix-Marseilles in basic research, and those of the CEA (Direction Recherche Technologique) in technologic research.

HélioBiotec is implied in several academic or industrial partnership research projects supported by the European Union, the ANR, OSEO, the ADEME,…

HélioBiotec is partner of the project of institute of excellence on decarbonate energies (IEED) Green Stars.

Mass spectrometer for the analysis of hydrogen production
 
Hydrogen production by microalgae