Between 2008 and 2018, the Futurol project gathered 11 public and private sector partners – financial, industrial and academic (including INRAE scientists) – around a major project designed to develop French know-how in the production of bioethanol using lignocellulosic raw materials. The goals of this project have now been achieved, because the technology has reached its final stage and the product is now being sold by Axens. The principal advantages of this exportable and sustainable technology are its simplicity, total energy independence and adaptability to different types of biomass, which means it could be used at a global scale.
As early as 2011, the project installed its pilot plant on the site in Pomacle Bazancourt (Marne). This tool was designed to validate the ability of the Futurol technology to completely process 1 tonne/day of raw materials, from the preparation of biomass to the final step of ethanol distillation. This global approach to a continuous process indicated its unique capacity at this scaling-up stage. Trials on pre-treatment – a critical stage – were also performed, with the processing of around 100 tonnes a day at another site.
Since 31 October 2018, ARD SA, one of the partners in this project, has assured the future for the experimental tool operated by Procethol 2G SAS, the company set up to host and drive the Futurol project. By purchasing the pilot and taking over the staff responsible for its operation, ARD will be supporting AXENS, an IFPEN subsidiary that is responsible for the global marketing of Futurol technology.