Scientific Watch N°2 - From 05/18/2015 to 05/22/2015

Please find every other two weeks a small Scientific Watch regarding cultural and scientific activities in France. [2015-N°02 du 05/18/2015 au 05/22/2015]

From 05/18/2015 to 05/22/2015

Editors :

Julie METTA, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Justin MONIER, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Sébastien TREMOLET, Scientific Officer - Hong Kong

Isabelle SAVES, Attachée for Scientific & Academic Affairs - Hong Kong

Contact :




1- Energy & Environment

1.1- “Concours Lepine” : A green invention to manufacture fuels from agriculture residues.

On May, 9th 2015, the 144th “Concours Lepine” has rewarded “green” innovations which emphasize recycling and energy savings, reducing the stress on environment and natural resources. This prize rewards every year since 1901 the best inventions launched within the year. Among the 600 applications submitted, this year’s winner was a mobile unit enable to produce fuels from agricultural residues. The fuel produced is half less expensive than oil or gas, polluting fossil fuels.

The “H-energy granulator Mobile” was developed by three old friends, all three already awarded as “Best France workers “, a title of excellence in their category.


The H-energy granulator Mobile Source : Huffington post.

The "Concours Lépine" is a French contest for inventions created in 1901 by Louis Lépine (1846-1933).

Le Huffington Post, May 15 May 2015 - Source

1.2- Phosphorus : a limited resource essential to agriculture in the 21st century.

Modelling work conducted at planetary scale has demonstrated that, regardless of climate change models used, the availability of phosphorus determines the level of biomass production and, consequently, of carbon storage in ecosystems responding to these changes. Contrary to expectations, the work revealed that phosphorous limitations are less strong in tropical ecosystems than in the rest of the world.

Steadily increasing demand for agricultural biomass for food and non-food uses, and growing scarcity of the resources needed to produce fertilisers (natural gas and energy for nitrogen, phosphate rocks for P) raise the question of agriculture’s dependence on synthetic fertilisers. Dependence on nitrogen is usually calculated on an annual basis to estimate the ratio between the amount of nitrogen applied through synthetic fertilisers and the nitrogen content of the harvested products. In this way it was demonstrated that, on a planetary scale, 40% of protein production is dependent on synthetic nitrogen fertilisers Phosphorus experts agree that it is necessary to develop an international framework to govern phosphorus resources. This will first require significant communication and education measures to raise collective awareness of and a sense of responsibility towards this global problem. Efforts to this end are underway in Europe through the work of the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform.

INRA Website, May 17 2015 Source


2- Health & Society

2.1- Viagra : new track against the transmission of the paludism parasite ?

By increasing the rigidity of red blood cells infected with the malaria agent, Viagra promotes their elimination from the bloodstream and could therefore reduce the transmission of the parasite from man to mosquito. This amazing discovery, made by researchers from CNRS, Inserm, Université Paris Descartes, the Pasteur Institute and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene could be the cause of a treatment reducing the spread of malaria in the population. Their work was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on May 7, 2015.

The malaria parasite has a complex life cycle taking place partly in human and partly in the mosquito. The parasite develops in men in red blood cells sequestered in the bone marrow before being released into the blood. They are then accessible to mosquitoes that can be absorbed in a sting. However, circulating red blood cells, infected or not, are deformable, which prevents elimination by the spleen organ, which filters the blood continuously, retains indeed the rigid red blood cells, old or abnormal. But the parasitized red blood cells, deformable easily cross spleen and persist for several days in the bloodstream. In a new study, scientists have sought to make it more rigid infected red blood cells.

CNRS Website, May 17 2015 - Source


3- Research and Education

3.1- CNRS innovation award 2015 presented to Jerome Chevalier, Patrick Maestro, Jean-Michel Morel and Sylviane Muller.

This prestigious award recognizes individuals whose outstanding research leads to breakthrough innovations in technology, therapeutic and societal.

Jérôme Chevalier
Director since January 2014 in the laboratory Materials : Engineering and Science (CNRS / INSA Lyon / UCBL), J.C is an international recognized specialist in the design of innovative ceramics including bioceramics. This 44-year-old teacher researcher has proposed major improvements to increase the durability of orthopaedic and dental prostheses ceramic. He was also working in new composites used in surgery to replace the bone tissue and supports of tissue regeneration material.

Patrick Maestro
Newly elected member of the Academy of Technology, this chemical researcher is renowned worldwide in the field of materials. The compounds based on rare earth oxides that are found today in the energy-saving lamps (LED) in the catalytic combustors cars or as pigments in plastics.

Jean-Michel Morel
Specialist analysis and image processing, this mathematician made discoveries that changed the life of the general publicSince then, its powerful image denoising algorithms (to remove the disturbances or "noise") improve the miniaturization of cameras of mobile phones, including those designed by the company DxO Labs.

Sylviane Muller
Entered the CNRS in 1981, she has since 2001 lead the Immunopathology and therapeutic chemistry unit of the CNRS in Strasbourg. It was in this laboratory that she has discovered with her team the therapeutic effect of peptide P140 on lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects more than 5 million patients in the world and against which there is no specific treatment yet.

CRNS website, May 21 2015 - Source

3.2- Biosourced UV-absorbent surface coatings with adjustable properties.

"Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA)" scientists have succeeded in designing UV-absorbent films using an organic matrix made up of lignin and nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC). They have shown that it is possible to adjust their thickness, control their transparency and vary their absorption capacity within the UV spectrum. UV-absorbent films are generally made of an inorganic matrix which incorporates compounds that absorb ultraviolet light (titanium dioxide, cerium/bismuth oxides, etc.). Using UV blockers of nanometric size can prevent the bleaching of this matrix over time. Until today, the use of organic UV blockers has been much less widespread, even though they may endow these films with some interesting properties (biodegradability, biocompatibility, selective permeability, etc.) that could be adjusted depending on the treatments applied to them. Lignins are complex and highly phenolic compounds found in fibrous plants and wood whose UV absorbance properties have been known for many years. INRA research scientists in the Joint Research Unit for the Fractionation of Agricultural Resources and the Environment (UMR FARE) have tried to exploit this characteristic. The use of biomolecules for their formulation, and the possibility to direct certain characteristics, mean that these innovative UV-absorbent films are good candidates for applications, which require biocompatibility and/or biodegradability. A patent has been filed for this technology.

INRA website, May 21 2015 - Source


4- Technology & Transport

4.1- Pl@ntNet App : The new Shazam to identify flowers.

Who has never walked, wondering what name could possibly wear such a flower or a plant ?

Established in France at the end of a joint initiative between INRIA, INRA, CIRAD, IRD and Tela Botanica, the Pl@ntNet application allows you to identify, via image recognition, plants that you encounter in your daily life.
With a database of over 800 references, which grows day by day, the application is able to recognize a large majority of plants and flowers that you would like to meet and know the name. Eventually, the database is expected to reach more than 5000 references.


Pl@ntNet application identifies the Corylus avellana L. Source : Creapills.

Creapills website, May 18 2015 - Source

4.2- Bio-bitumen : green roads from microalgae ?

Microalgae are a very promising source of alternative to oil and this, without competing with the food industry. For the first time, they were used to make bitumen ...!
Chemistry laboratory researchers from both CNRS (The National Center for Scientific Research) and Nantes University brought the proof of concept of this bio-bitumen, whose characteristics are very close to the ’real’ asphalt roads. Under the Algoroute program, funded by the Pays de la Loire, Nantes and Orléans laboratories, some researchers in bio-product have producted bitumen valuing microalgae residues.

While the chemical composition of bio-bitumen is completely different from that of bitumen from oil, they have similarities : the color black and rheological properties. Liquid above 100 ° C, bio-bitumen makes it possible to coat the mineral aggregate ; viscoelastic -20 ° C to 60 ° C, ensures the cohesion of the granular structure, support loads and relax the mechanical stresses.Some studies began to evaluate the profitability of the process in view of a large-scale production.

Enerzine website, May 18 2015 - Source

publié le 03/07/2015

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