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Academy : National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
Publication : All

Methane - where does it come from, what is its impact on the climate? (Report only in French)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2014

EDP Sciences 2014
Strong variations of atmospheric concentrations of the potent greenhouse gas methane have accompanied glacial and interglacial periods - influencing timetable and magnitude of past and present climate changes. The report describes and analyses natural and human-related sources and sinks of atmospheric methane with particular attention to potentially massive emissions from thawing permafrost and clathrates. The methane fluxes between main reservoirs and the atmosphere is measured via ground-based networks or from outer space. As atmospheric methane is destroyed over time (half-life ~7 years), its GHG-efficiency is not straight-forward. While fossil fuel exploitation is an important methane source, emissions could be limited at reasonable cost. Feedbacks from wetlands and soils are more difficult to control. Recommendations are made in areas such as agricultural practices, waste- and landfill management, biomass combustion, exploitation of coal, natural gas and oil. The potential exploitation of methane from permafrost and marine clathrates should be closely followed.

Impact of ICT on world energy consumption - and carbon footprints (Report only in French)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2015

EDP Sciences, 2015
The report analyses the impact of ICT’s worldwide energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions, considering the impacts generated by the operation of its various hardware and infrastructure, and the savings it spawns in other areas of activity. Conclusion: The final energy and carbon balance of all ICT categories together is clearly a positive one. In 2012, ICT accounted for 4.7% of worldwide electricity consumption, and a total carbon footprint of about 1.7 percent. These numbers are on an upwards trend, but in smaller proportions than the growing use of ICT, thanks to its contribution to reduce these footprints in other areas of activities such as in the transport sector, buildings, manufacturing industries, or even dematerialised procedures. The report focuses on the (global) transport/mobility sector benefitting from digitisation in and around vehicles and lists current lines of research aimed at better performance of computing, with lower energy consumption.

Energy Vectors (English version)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2012

Editions Le Manuscrit 2012
Energy procurement/uses, influenced by oil prices and climate change, may differ in different countries. These influences continue but time-scales change (e.g. for peak oil and gas). The Fukushima accident has shaken confidence into nuclear power.
This Report proposes a robust methodology for making relevant economic and ecological choices related to energy transition. Focussing on the French situation, it deals with Energy Vectors: the support system delivering energy ready to use (electricity, petrol, gas, or heat, etc.) to consumers; the intermediary stage of vectors between sources (coal, gas, U, wind, hydro) and demand of final energy (for transport, heating, industrial processes, etc.).
While end-consumers may not be aware of the source for the final energy, distinguishing between them would allow economic and ecological competition (when C02 emissions carry a price-tag).
This report throws new light on the political decisions that must be taken and provides guidelines with a long-range relevance.

Biogas (Report only in French)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2016

EDP Sciences 2016
Biogas, resulting from the decomposition of organic matter, is known since the late 18th century: swamp gas. In Europe, the production of biogas on an industrial scale takes off somewhere between 1980 and 1990.
The report describes sources and processes for the generation of biogas: hermetically sealed waste dumps and the capture of biogas from anaerobic digestion; industrial anaerobic fermentation of household waste with different species of bacteria at different temperatures; fermentation of agricultural crop waste and animal droppings; processing of biodegradable sludge from waste water treatment plants; etc. Biogas plants using a second generation methanisation process at high temperatures have been built in Germany and Sweden. Biogas is regarded as a renewable energy but is not fit for industrial use in untreated form as it contains various contaminants that need to be filtered. The success of biogas as a substitute for natural gas depends on the financial incentives granted.

Big Data: a change of paradigm (Report only in French)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2015

Big Data implies a revolution in IT, reaching from technology to applications and practices, enabling the analysis of vast pools of "digital traces". Data manipulation from smartphones and connected objects opens up new service opportunities and cost reductions of IT-systems. While it is a major issue for sciences, politics and citizens, this report looks at the impact on businesses: mastering these methods permits a new immediacy in customer relationships. Big data is a disruptive data-analysis methodology, replacing classic approaches by iterative loops and using detected patterns for operational effectiveness. It is a new way of massive parallel data-centred programming and of designing algorithms, due to treatment on a myriad of machines, high-performance requirements, and development of algorithms through learning. It is a major challenge and paradigm shift for Governments and companies, deserving strong support in terms of training and awareness.

Synthetic biology and (white) industrial biotechnologies (Advice) - (Report only in French)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2012

Biotechnology is the application of S&T to living organisms. White biotechnology (Bio-Based Industries - BBl) uses renewable carbon-sources in fermentation-processes to produce food compounds, fuels, specialties and chemical commodities, and plastics.  Synthetic biology (SB) introduces engineering principles into biotechnology, promoting the emergence of a true bio-economy.  Although endowed with a well-developed agriculture and BBI-related research, there are only about a dozen companies engaged in applications of SB to BBl in France, including start-ups, intermediate enterprises, and Total, resulting in few industrial realisations. The sector is considered risky by investors.  Consistent efforts to train engineers and PhD-students in these areas are essential.  Regarding risks, traditional BBI-products must be distinguished from SB-products in specific sectors. Upstream from industrial SB-applications on a large scale, research on the security, safety, ethics, toxicology and ecotoxicology is vital.  The academic SB-community self-regulates its conduct in an effort of openness, transparency, anticipation and
prevention of potential risks.

Technology and climate change: several solutions to mitigate the effects and to adapt (Executive Summary in English)

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2016

The report takes stock of available or future technologies for mitigating climate change. First conclusion: climate-engineering, in the current state of knowledge, is not an alternative.
It identifies the most favourable conditions, especially in the most contributing sectors, for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promoting preventive adaptation measures, including a carbon emission penalty. The cost of increased energy efficiency must be less than the value of the energy saved and, as the case may be, the worth of CO2 not emitted. The same cost-benefit analysis should apply for any mitigation technology considered. Preventive adaptation measures are possible in agriculture, forestry, energy, urban environment, manufacturing, coastal protection, access to safe water, resources management, etc. Moreover, involving civil society (lifestyles and behaviours) will be important for reducing GHG emissions. And we must not forget technologies in developing countries, which are often more vulnerable to climate change than the richer developed countries.

First contribution to the Energy Transition National Debate - French and English versions in one report

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2012

Changes in world-wide energy production and utilisation are partly imposed or voluntarily implemented. France has launched a nation-wide debate on energy-policies with the participation of NATF. This document is a first contribution. It examines also the policy paths chosen respectively by the USA and Germany.
Some energy targets can be achieved through demand-control and energy-efficiency, i.e. better building insulation, more efficient household appliances, thermal solar panels, heat pumps, etc. New urban areas need to be energy-lean with little commuting requirements.
Fossil fuels should be kept for transport and chemical industry sectors. Vehicles will increasingly use electricity or biofuels. Industrialists stabilise energy requirements through improvement of production processes. French nuclear power capacity will continue, but move to more flexibility, compensating for the intermittency of wind- and solar power.
The final goal is the reduction of the GHG emissions at the least cost.

Freight Systems

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2012

The report assumes fuel and pollution-related costs of transport will rise substantially.  However, such costs are only a minor part of the overall costs of a transport system that includes logistics for managing the “Production – Transport – Distribution” chain.  The report looks specifically into the transport of manufactured goods, representing 50% of total volume, but growing at a rate of 8% per year.  On a global scale, this marine-based system appears to be resilient and self-adapting to market conditions, while the local chains include rail, road and waterways.  Potential cost reductions are mainly linked to the power of IT in logistics, including in production (M2M), collection, shipping and distribution: the “second invisible arm”.
The study takes account of both world and European trends, and draws comparisons for gaining a better understanding of the French issues.  It also looks at related French Research capabilities and how to improve cross-fertilisation between different disciplines, the linkage to the private sector and international collaborations for greater impact.  Last, not least, it points to the need of making this sector more attractive to talented young people and adapt the curriculum at the “Grandes Écoles” to the needs of the market.

Group Leader: Jean-Claude Raoule, NATF Territorial Delegate West, Technical Advisor to the French Railway Industry Association, Director of the European Association of Railway Interoperability, and NATF Fellow.

The patient, technologies and ambulatory medicine

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2008

Due to the increased life expectancy and the related increase of chronic diseases (as opposed to acute disorders when patients are younger), an alternative approach to hospital care has become necessary: a third of the population of France and the US now suffers from chronic diseases.  Ambulatory medicine, which is a health care system that keeps the patient at home while offering him the same outstanding quality care that he would receive at the hospital, is such an economically viable approach, responding at the same time to the wishes of patients, to economic requirements and scientific, technological and medical developments.
This report describes recent advances of ambulatory medical care, identifies obstacles to overcome and incentives to encourage and makes recommendations for future development with the aim of optimizing the management of healthcare costs, with special emphasis on the role of information technology to master the complex system of information flows between the many stakeholders.  It does also identify the potential hurdles and necessary incentives and looks at issues of compliance with existing law and legal adaptation to the new requirements.  It also evokes the necessary training of the various actors in order for the system to function adequately.

Working-group Leaders: Francis Lévi, Professor of Medical Oncology and NATF Fellow, and Christian Saguez, Former Professor at École Centrale de Paris and NATF Fellow.

Large Socio-Technical Systems

National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF)
2013

Large, networked Socio-Technical Systems (or LSTSs), often continental or even global in scale, such as railroad-, air traffic-, electric-, and telecommunications systems, and the internet, have modified life-styles and society. Citizens see them as combining sciences and technologies, offering essential value-for-money services.
They have common characteristics: expected safe and no-break service quality; co-operation of a myriad of component parts, including agents.
Success and vulnerability through complexification (national and European regulations, multiplication for each LSTS of autonomous agents) and inter-dependence (inroads by ICTs, liberalisation) go hand-in-hand.
During the past 15 years, the drafting of new regulatory texts that promote sustainable development of the LSTSs, incorporating technical trends while reconciling local aspirations and nation-wide issues, has become increasingly difficult.
NATF proposes:

1) An objective analysis of the experience from the last 20 years for each LSTS, covering operations, quality, costs, jobs, risk control, governance and regulation, crises situations/incidents and the degrees of interdependence with other LSTSs.
2) Exploring possible (global) trends for the next two decades including sustainable development.
3) Teach LSTSs to young people early on for a better appreciation, including of S&T and ongoing innovations.
These proposals should contribute to better informed decision processes that benefit our children.

Yves BAMBERGER (WP Chair and Draft author) – Scientific counsellor to EDF
CEO – Fellow of the NATF