New areas

Exploring all the wealth of plants

Looking to the future is an essential aspect of Avril's strategy. One of the group's missions is to help the farming world provide solutions for the future in terms of food, energy resources and chemicals, while preserving the environment. 

Vegetable protein: a food issue

According to a forecast carried out by the BIPE*and the Avril group, satisfying global needs in terms of vegetable protein will become a key issue in feeding the planet. Global demand in protein looks set to increase by 40% by 2030. A balanced intake of vegetable and animal protein – according to the development paths of diets in emerging countries – would be a solution in the future. Vegetable protein and chemicals are some of the sectors identified by France, within the 2030 Innovation Commission, that will foster growth, industrialisation and employment.

Several research programmes are being carried out within the IMPROVE platform (joint institute for vegetable proteins), in which Avril has joined forces with other key players in agricultural processing and development.

* Office of Information and Economic Forecasts

Oilseed meal: another life for seeds

Until now, oilseed meal – another protein- and fibre-rich product resulting from the crushing of rapeseed and sunflower seed – was little processed, and used exclusively for livestock. It is now central to the Avril Group's research. The aim here is to make oilseed meal a new raw material, which can be broken down to extract the concentrated form of protein it contains, which has considerable nutritional value for human and animal food.

Biotechnologies: focusing on living beings

A highly promising field of exploration for Avril, "white" biotechnologies use microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, enzymes and microalgae) to transform raw vegetable material into compounds that can be used in renewable chemistry and third generation biofuels. These microorganisms can produce compounds of considerable use in industry – like bioplastics – based on oils, or be used themselves to produce highly original oils. 

The group has its own industrial biotechnology factory at Oleon in Venette, near Compiègne, and aims to develop an industrial unit by 2017.

In addition, Avril is involved in several biotechnology projects through partnerships – for example, with Fermentalg, a company specialising in the production of oils and proteins based on microalgae, and within the Institut P.I.V.E.R.T., which is researching new processes for making use of the entire plant. Avril is also a partner of Toulouse White Biotech, whose mission is to foster the interface between public research and industry in white biotechnologies.

Biomass: the challenge of resources

Oilseed biomass combines plants with a high lipid and protein content, like rapeseed, sunflowers and peas. These resources play an important role in the Avril Group's industrial activities. Plants are central to RID* work.

The Group thus contributes to seed improvement by supporting the varietal selection dynamic.

Its ambition is to make the very best use of this biomass, which represents a renewable raw material with considerable advantages for chemistry and energy.

In partnership with universities and manufacturers within the Institut P.I.V.E.R.T., Avril is developing research on the oilseed biorefineries of the future. This work will make it possible to use the entire plant through the comprehensive management of the material and the energy contributed, based on industrial ecology.

The aim of this research is also to be able to process the wide variety of biomass used in the BioTfueL project, such as lignocellulosic biomass (wood, straw and plant residues), together with microalgae (see biotechnologies).  

Nothing is wasted in sunflowers

Sunflower husks, already used to power the biomass boiler in the crushing factories at Bassens and Lezoux, represent a raw material of major industrial interest for Avril. The research department is now at work on processing husks in order to extend their use to fine chemistry and eco-materials.

* Research, Innovation and Development