Interview of Arnault Perrault, director of Colas Environnement.
A few words about Colas Environnement and your R&D objectives?
Arnault Perrault: Colas Environnement is a subsidiary of the construction giant Colas. It is an engineering and pollution control company with about sixty employees, in a niche sector that is nevertheless of vital importance, since we clean up soil and groundwater. Colas Environnement is also involved in the redevelopment of brownfield sites, to revitalize them for new uses, in line with the government’s objective of “zero net soil sealing” by 2050.
Our R&D efforts are geared to meet two challenges. The first is to optimise our techniques to increase our competitiveness and lower the costs of treating wastelands, particularly those affected by heavy hydrocarbons, and the second is to deal with emerging pollutants of interest, in particular PFASs, synthetic organic substances used for domestic or industrial purposes.
How did the partnership with BRGM come about?
A.P.: BRGM has a sufficiently broad range of skills to respond to this dual research focus, which has enabled it to address both issues within the Concerto project.
We already got to know each other during the BIOXYVAL project (from 2017 to 2020) on solutions for managing complex pollution from industrial wastelands, and then on MOBILMOUSSE, which aims to improve the recovery of supernatants.
How would you sum up your partnership?
A.P.: We complement each other perfectly: we know the markets and BRGM has the expertise. Each party contributes its financial, human and technical resources. Of course, BRGM's multimetric research platform (PPM) is a real asset. These resources are supplemented by public and/or industrial funding.
As a scientific reference on polluted sites and soils, BRGM is extremely agile in that it can mobilise experts in many cross-disciplinary fields (biology, hydrogeology, chemistry, etc.) very quickly. It is a research catalyst for Colas Environnement.
This partnership is one of the elements that enable COLAS Environnement to remain at the forefront of the pollution control market, both in situ (without excavating, generally using shafts) and on site (materials are excavated and treated on site), thanks to the synergy between the expertise of BRGM researchers and the operational excellence of COLAS Environnement.
A patent is being filed for improved biopiles, developed jointly by BRGM and COLAS. Most importantly, with regard to PFASs, the collaboration gives us access to the major European Green Deal project PROMISCES on the development of innovative solutions to remove persistent pollutants from the environment.