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A Masters in Biorefinery & Biomaterials

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In conjunction with Grenoble INP-Phelma, Grenoble INP-Pagora now offers a Biorefinery and Biomaterials course as part of its Masters in Materials Science and Engineering. Launched at the beginning of the 2018 academic year, the course - which is taught in French and English at Masters 1 level and in English alone at Masters 2 level - is aimed at students who are keen to work in industries that use biomass to produce chemicals, energy and biomaterials.


The conversion of biomass into energy, chemicals and polymers is an important component of the green economy. It contributes to the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the intensification of recycling and the minimisation of waste. Bioenergy, biofuels, bioproducts and biopolymers are all now a reality. However, the rate at which their production is growing must be stepped up considerably if their contribution is to meet the challenges we face. This will require new skills to become available.


Biorefinery is the process that enables plant resources to be converted into energy and chemicals. While similar in definition to a traditional refinery, the wide variety of materials and the complexity of their chemical composition make biorefinery a highly specific engineering process. The chemistry involved also differs from that of petrochemistry :
 - plant constituents are structured with three essential atoms (C, H, O) - oil has just two (C, H) - which generates greater complexity.
- these structures are complex organic architectures that can be valorised as is. This can be an advantage for the production of products and materials that offer new properties.


The Biorefinery & Biomaterials course covers the entire process, from the procurement of lignocellulosic biomass, i.e., essentially wood, to the production of chemicals, biofuels, synthons and biopolymers that can replace fossil-based products. The programme places an emphasis on the constituents of lignocellulosic biomass (lignin, hemicellulose, cellulose, extractable products) and their chemistry, as well as the chemical, physico-chemical and biotechnological processes that allow them to be separated, purified or modified for the purpose of valorisation (biorefinery).


A special focus is also placed on the cellulose industry, because it currently displays the greatest potential when it comes to mass producing bioproducts - including fibres, fibrils and cellulose micro and nanocrystals - not to mention sugars, carbohydrates in general and lignin, which are immediately available for valorisation. The course also covers the heat processing of biomass (roasting, pyrolysis, gasification) and the synthesis of new polymers and composites for the design of biomaterials with specific properties : new functions, biodegradability, food contact, etc.


This multidisciplinary course features modules on chemistry, biology, enzyme catalysis, fermentation, process engineering, chemical and biotechnical engineering, polymerisation and material strength. It also broaches production costs, the sector’s economic aspects and its environmental impact. The training is in line with the topics of the Tec21 Laboratory of Excellence, the Carnot Polynat Institute, CDP Glyco@Alps, the Grenoble Alpes University IDEX, and the Axelera Chemistry-Environment innovation cluster.


The skills that students acquire in the fields of chemistry, processes, biotechnology and polymerisation, but also in their application to plant biomass valorisation, are in high demand in various industrial sectors : cellulose, textiles, cosmetics, detergents, paints, plastics, packaging, energy, food, pharmaceuticals, etc.


Applications are open until 15 June 2018.

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