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Doctorant en évaluation intégrée et bioingénierie

L'unité BIA propose un sujet de thèse sur "Modelling and assessment of biorefinery systems in local context"

Mis à jour le 06/02/2018
Publié le 06/02/2018
Mots-clés :

Laboratories and researchers

INRA BIA https://www6.angers-nantes.inra.fr/bia - Bernard Cathala, Kamal Kansou

ESB LIMBHA – Franck Michaud

Context of the PhD grant

The PhD scholarship is a part of the EU project Flexibi (http://faccesurplus.org/research-projects-2nd- call/flexibi/) for the design of innovative biorefinery models for the treatment of multi-biomass feedstocks waste from urban and peri-urban areas, using modelling and experimental approaches. Under the coordination of INRA Nantes, six major players (Hamburg University, Hamburg University of Technology, Ecole Supérieure du Bois, University of Helsinki and KU Leuven) will develop a flexible and predictable process able to manage various feedstocks biomass (Small-scale Flexi-feed Biorefineries, SFB) with the support of an Advisory Board. The scale of biorefinery production units and the manufacturing process will be investigated through the assessment of scenarios and numerical simulations. Multi-criteria decision analysis will be performed to account for technological and production aspects but also for important dimensions of the socio-economic and ecological environment. Three pilot regions (Hamburg, Flanders and Nantes) will provide the necessary experimental data and samples for the project.

Problematic and context

Depletion of the petrochemical sources and growing carbon dioxide emission bring many countries to set up policies to promote the shift to bio-based alternatives toward the bio-economy. The biorefinery concept is a core element of this economy, it implies the conversion of biomass into a range of products, biofuels, energy and chemicals, so to maximize the value derived from the feedstock. Designing a proper biorefinery system is challenging: first biorefinery processes are numerous and have to be adapted to the feedstocks and the products to select, second the impact of a biorefinery system in a complex socio-economic and ecologic system is difficult to anticipate.
In this context, it is essential to assess various biorefinery system configurations with respect to the local context in order to generate useful information for policy making and stakeholders (biomass producers, biorefinery industrial, end users). This includes in particular the scale of the production unit, small-scale vs large-scale, and the spatial organisation of the facilities, centralized or distributed. Thus large-scale facilities system co-located with downstream productions may have higher yields, but the integration of urban flows might favour the small-scale facilities system in peri-urban areas. This analysis involves many different aspects, raw materials supplies, social aspects, logistics, local policy, legislative context and then several stakeholders.

Main objective and methodology

The main objective of this PhD thesis is to develop a collaborative method to support decision regarding biorefinery system configuration in a socio-ecological context. The research will consist in the assessment of the potential impact of the setting of biorefinery facilities in three pilot regions (Nantes, Hamburg, Flanders) and involved the members of the advisory board, domain experts and local stakeholders. The research will involve the building of conceptual models using inputs from various sources of knowledge (experts, literature or project findings). The models will provide a comprehensive holistic view of the causal dependencies related to the suitable configuration of the waste biorefinery scale, integrating the technical, environment and socio-economic facets, and support scenarios assessed through a computational procedure.

The main methodology steps are:
- Knowledge acquisition, a group of experts whose knowledge covers the relevant domains of activity will be formed
- Conceptual modelling, knowledge will be captured in causal models
- Analysis of the knowledge models, the goal is to identify the key variables involved in small-scale biorefinery activity and aid in assessment of the likelihood of success. This step requires quantitative modelling.


biorefinery, decision support, stakeholder, knowledge representation, causal map, bioeconomy, biomass waste

Scientific environment

INRA BIA and ESB LIMBHA, both located in Nantes, will offer the PhD student a rewarding place to work. BIA is a large research unit of 200 researchers, technicians, students working on the design of novel food products and bio-based materials with improved functionalities; ESB is a higher education-research school in wood science and technology. The thesis takes place in the framework of EU-project Flexibi and implies collaborations with major labs in the domain of biomass processing in Belgium and Germany as well as experts from the advisory board.


This problem will require the integration of knowledge from different disciplines (a meta-discipline called Integrated Assessment Modelling): environmental science and agronomy, geoscience, biotechnology and bioengineering, it will also involve computer modelling and analytical tools. We are looking for candidate with a master degree in one of these fields, interested by modelling in interaction with stakeholders and by sustainability assessment. Must be proficient in English and preferably in French as well.
Net monthly income: 1400€ according to French regulations for PhD

Selection process

Funding agencies require completion of the selection process to confirm the doctoral scholarship by September 2018. For this reason:
- The starting date for the scholarship is October 2018.
- The application must be sent before the 15th March 2018 in English or in French with the following:

  • CV
  • Cover letter
  • Master thesis summary
  • Two contact persons (professor or master supervisor)

Selection process will proceed with interviews of selected candidates, and final decision will be given by May 2018.


Bernard Cathala : bernard.cathala@inra.fr

Kamal Kansou : Kamal.Kansou@inra.fr

Franck Michaud : franck.michaud@ecoledubois.fr