« Nothing is lost, nothing is created, all things are merely transformed”.
Pierre Oesterle, the winner of the French Institutes Nordic Award 2023 (FINA) in Sweden, has chosen this quote from the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier as the basis for his research.
He received the prize for the third edition of the FINA from the French Ambassador during a ceremony that took place at the Residence de France in Stockholm on the 20th of June 2023.
Pierre Oesterle is currently a doctoral student in Environmental Chemistry at Umeå University in Sweden. During the event, he presented his research project focused on the “re-use of waste produced by forest industry”, more specifically, on using these biobased waste materials (e.g: softwood) to adsorb micropollutants that are found at the end of our wastewater treatment plants and answered the questions from the captivated audience.
What is Oesterle´s current research about?
The consumption of pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants worldwide increases year after year. When people ingest these substances, a majority of the molecules end up undegraded in the wastewater and further in the wastewater treatment plants. Most of these plants are not designed to deal with this pollution. As a consequence, these pharmaceutical molecules end up in our ecosystem and contaminate both land and water.
Few removal or degradation processes are currently used such as ozonation or activated carbon. The drawback of using activated carbons is the unsustainability of the technique because when the adsorbent is used up, most of the activated carbons end up burned or in landfill, thus inducing a potential secondary pollution. Moreover, most activated carbons are based on non-renewable resources (coal) which do not meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Oesterle’s research tries to design bio-based activated biochars from waste of the mining and forestry industry to replace the activated carbons in wastewater treatment plants. As previously explained, there is still an issue with the end-of-life adsorbents created and his research aims at regenerating or recycling the spent sorbents using hydrothermal deconstruction. The idea behind this technology is to use a low temperature but a high pressure process to degrade the contaminants adsorbed on the surface of the activated biochar and to check the regeneration efficiencies of the material afterwards.
What is the FINA?
The French Institute Nordic Award is an initiative of the four councillors for culture, directors of the French institutes in the Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland to promote French actions on scientific key issues. FINA was created in 2020 and Estonia has joined the 2023 edition. This award aims to promote the scientific cooperation between France and the Nordic countries and to reward the outstanding achievements of young researchers by letting them discover French research institutions during a research trip in France.
The 2023 thematic is « circular economy », with a special focus on food, waste management, textiles, biobased materials, recycling and development of new crops. According to the United Nations, the circular economy is a system of production, exchange and sharing that allows for social progress, preservation of natural capital and economic development as defined by the Brundtland Commission (i.e. the UN World Commission on Environment and Development published a book in 1987: “Our Common Future”).
The objective of the research trip is to make these young researchers better acquainted with the French context and activities in the field, and to contribute to the development of scientific cooperation between Nordic researchers and their French counterparts. The group of laureates will travel to the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region (Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand), a rising location for the circular economy in France. They will visit the laboratories in their field of expertise and meet French researchers and teams. The aim is to help create links and develop scientific cooperation with their French counterparts.
- The trip will take place in the fall of 2023. The group of the five laureates will visit the following laboratories and organizations:
- Clermont-Ferrand : Centre d’Excellence Jean Monnet – Erasme, Fédération des Recherches en environnement (FRE)
- Lyon : ENS, UCLy (École urbaine), Université Lyon I, CNRS et un incubateur.
If you want to know more about….
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