The innovation and diversification policy of Eramet's activities is the key driver of the Group's growth strategy. The advanced technology industries with which Eramet works need increasingly high-performance materials. They must be more robust, more reliable, more competitive and less energy-hungry. Research and development programs mean the Group can respond to these demands and anticipate the market's requirements.
Research and Development Serving Industry
Since 2006, Eramet has concentrated its research and development efforts on:
- reducing the environmental impacts of its facilities, manufacturing processes and products;
- meeting the requirements of its industrial clients;
- improving its competitiveness;
- offering new services;
- fully participating in the developments of the Group's activity.
In 2010, Eramet created the Research, Innovation, Engineering and Procurement Department. Its goal is to coordinate the progress initiatives for these core areas of its activity. A Scientific and Innovation Department was attached to it in 2011.
Eramet has implemented an efficient and responsive organization, ranging from preparing programs to implementing innovations. It aims to meet customers' specific needs, but also to remain one step ahead.
The Group benefits from:
- a research center at Trappes (France), Eramet Research, where industrial process pilot programs are developed;
- teams in charge of more specific subjects in the Divisions: product development, modeling of certain processes, coordination of industrial testing and the industrialization stages of projects.
As part of a research program, Eramet Research works in synergy with the heads of development in the Divisions. The services of the operational staff are regularly called on and at times, customer design offices take part in developing new products.
Besides the resources of Eramet Research, Aubert & Duval and Erasteel, the two subsidiaries of the Group's Alloys Division, have dedicated research centers established at some of their production sites:
- Les Ancizes (France) for superalloys;
- Söderfors (Sweden) for powder metallurgy;
- Pamiers (France) for coined parts.
The European Hydrometallurgical Institute, a general project for further research
Proposed as part of the 2014-2020 European Research Program, European Hydrometallurgical Institute will be designed to assist European companies in addressing the lack of tools for experimentation and developing hydrometallurgical techniques, since the latter are particularly promising in dealing with the issues of the supply of ores and metal production.
This Institute will make available to the industry players the means to test continuously and at an appropriate scale the processes designed in the laboratory, thereby ensuring viable development.
It should offer a major competitive advantage to all metallurgy players by:
- allowing industrialists to carry out pilot test campaigns;
- assisting SMEs in the development of their processes;
- making the link between the academic world and industry;
- training hydrometallurgy professionals.
As the initiator of this project, Eramet is fully involved in completing the preliminary studies, but also in mobilizing potential partners, both private and public.
FUTUNA 2010-2012: seabed exploration campaigns with promising discoveries
Eramet is involved in research projects whose scientific interest goes beyond its own activities. Since 2010, the Group has thus participated in exploration campaigns of the volcanic ocean bed off the islands of Wallis and Futuna in the Pacific Ocean. Conducted by IFREMER, these campaigns are the result of a public-private partnership between Public Institutions (Protected Marine Areas Agency, BRGM) as well as industrial companies (Eramet, Technip).
The results of these scientific explorations, funded partly by Eramet, provide a wealth of information for French knowledge of the seabed in this area in all its aspects (topography, geology, volcanology, biology, biodiversity) since the samples taken (fluids, rocks, living organisms) have led to important analytical work. The findings are also promising from an economic point of view: several hydrothermal sites that could represent a potential mineral resource have been identified and are undergoing a comprehensive study.
The strategy and technical resources deployed during these campaigns, as well as the results obtained, demonstrate that France is the world leader in the exploration of the deep ocean bed.