At GRDF, our Research & Development focuses on our operational needs; we look for solutions to the issues in our trades. When GRDF was founded in 2008, we made the strategic decision not to create an in-house research laboratory. This doesn’t prevent us from conducting a structured R&D policy, devoting resources to it in the form of expertise, and allocating a substantial budget to it.

GRDF, Europe’s leading distributor of natural gas, has adopted the ambition of contributing to a decarbonised economy. We have therefore organised our R&D around four priorities:

  • Operational performance and safety: historical R&D area that is still the backbone of our business as a gas distributor;
  • Smart gas grids, or how to convert our infrastructures from a ‘gravity’ network supplied at a few main points to a dynamic network incorporating biomethane injection (and other gases in the future) at thousands of points, with connections to other energy networks;
  • Supporting the energy transition by ensuring the compatibility of new gases with all uses (from heating to mobility, including the decarbonisation of industry and territorial autonomy) and helping to improve consumer-side safety;
  • Green gases – methanisation and beyond – helping to make the production of biogases, synthetic gases, and hydrogen more cost-effective and highlighting their environmental benefits.

To conduct our R&D, we are activating some additional mechanisms : we are launching calls for projects as part of an open innovation initiative, we are forming partnerships with peers or other industrial players for research projects, we are funding doctoral thesis projects in various sectors, and we are purchasing R&D services.  For this last modality, as a company subject to public procurement laws, we are organising a consultation to list suppliers for future contracts.

We are launching this consultation with the aim of meeting companies or institutions we have not yet had the opportunity to work with, or new laboratories in the gas sector (but not exclusively). Because everybody knows that transposing a scientific idea from one area to another can create disruption and lead to progress. We want to generate that kind of opening!

That is why I am inviting you to discover the 11 packages on which we want to structure our listing. They call on a wide range of expertise, from modelling to field testing, covering physico-chemical analyses of gases and materials, laboratory testing, expert analysis of the consumer-side sector, new digital technologies, etc. You will find them listed with their exact wording in the Official Journal of the European Union dated 26 April 2021 (2021/S 084-218049).

  • Measuring and modelling risks related to hazardous phenomena in networks in order to prevent them
  • Reinforcing our knowledge of the physico-chemical properties of the metals and polymers with which the network is built in order to predict their reactions over time under various stresses and particularly welds, particularly with a view to hydrogen injection
  • Keeping up to date with new gas emission detection technologies, knowing how to detect as well as quantify and classify them, both in the field and using artificial intelligence
  • Analysing and measuring the physico-chemical properties of new gases using innovative technologies and measuring campaigns on biomethane injection stations and, in preparation for the future, all studies and technologies relating to methanation, pyrogasification, and power-to-gas processes, etc.
  • Refining our knowledge of the metrology of the devices (meters, regulators, etc.) installed on the network and how to carry out these studies
  • Exploring, studying, and describing the solutions of the future, designed to maintain the position of gas as a primary choice for various applications: modelling, technical and technical-economic analyses, test protocols, laboratory tests, field tests, analysis of customer attitudes, etc. One package is devoted to each of these areas of expertise: residential, commercial, industrial (including decarbonation issues) and territorial autonomy & energy complementarity.
  • Analysing, predicting and measuring the environmental and social impacts of green gases, conducting life cycle analyses that help to boost the social and societal acceptability of green gases and new energy sources
  • Producing a report on the state of the art in research, a review of the scientific publications and prospects for the new gases. In this package, we want to set up a technology watch mechanism on technologies with a very low TRL, which will allow us to deepen our various research areas.

Along with my colleagues who specialise in these subjects within GRDF’s business lines, I hope this consultation on very important themes that will shape our energy future will generate some productive expressions of interest.

We look forward to seeing your proposals

Further information and application forms for this consultation are available here:

  • Publication du Journal officiel de l’Union européenne (Official Journal of the European Union) (2021/S 084-218049).
  • The consultation documents are available here (“Purchase profile” platform: SECOIA (grdf.fr))
  • The deadline for submissions is 6 PM on 21st May 2021.

Jean-Philippe Cagne – Director of Research & Development & Innovation

Jean-Philippe Cagne