SGR Provence focuses on eco-innovation

Established in Cavaillon (France) in 1996, Saint-Gobain Recherche (SGR) Provence is one of the Group's eight cross-business R&D centers. Today, it is committed to eco-innovation, which is reflected in the implementation of two major projects to reduce its environmental footprint.

SGR Provence mise sur l’éco-innovation

While most of SGR Provence’s research is done on ceramics, powders, granules, sintered or fused-cast parts, a significant part of the R&D efforts carried out in Cavaillon is also devoted to other materials such as gypsum or mortars, flat glass or plastics. "In all cases, our approach to innovation is undergoing a profound transformation, in line with the Group's commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. It is part of an eco-innovation approach, centered on the circular economy and formalized by the ISO 14 001 standard: we set the objectives, measure what is real and implement action plans that allow us to reach these objectives", explains Robert Germar, Deputy Managing Director of SGR Provence.

This is how, for example, SGR Provence has built its environmental impact reduction program. Its objectives, in terms of waste recovery and water and energy consumption, have been included in the profit-sharing agreement signed with the employee representative bodies. 


TWO EXEMPLARY PROJECTS

The research center, which had already set up an eco-pasture experiment, recently launched two exemplary projects to reduce its environmental impact. 

The first involves the installation of photovoltaic (PV) cells on the roofs of its buildings. The installation of 450 panels, which required major prior renovation work (waterproofing and thermal insulation of the site), should result in substantial savings by the end of the year. "The furnaces we use for our research activities, and in particular our electro-fusion furnace, make us major consumers of electricity," says Robert Germar. "Thanks to these PV panels and with the help of the Provencal sun, our goal is to produce about 10% of the electricity we need.” 

The second project aims to purify the industrial water generated by the center. Until now, this water has been collected and transported by truck for treatment. It is used in particular for machining, core drilling and sawing refractory parts, as well as for cooling furnaces. "We are now going to filter it directly on the site," explains Robert Germar. "This corresponds to a volume of about 10,000 m3 per year, or 30% of our overall consumption.”

The filtration operations will be carried out using Crystar® ceramic membrane technology, developed by Saint-Gobain Recherche Provence and manufactured at the PCR (Performance Ceramics and Refractories) site in Rödental, Germany. "This installation should enable us to reduce our environmental footprint and obtain better quality filtered water," says Robert Germar. "Overall, we expect a return on investment within five years.”

SGR Provence has 200 employees, many of them researchers, of some 15 different nationalities. Their scientific and technical skills in the development of new products and processes are recognized worldwide. The work is developed in close collaboration with the various Saint-Gobain businesses, customers and the scientific and academic community.

Click on the links below for more information:

•  SG Recherche Provence Video
•  SG Recherche Provence Website