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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Startup Creates Biomimetic Solution to Prevent Volatile Liquids Storage Emissions

Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions are a major issue for oil and gas, chemicals, food and pharmaceutical industries. During the storage of ethereal liquids such as fuels and solvents, vapors can create a toxic, flammable or even explosive ‘cloud.’

In the past, oil and gas companies have fit their storage tanks with internal floating roofs made of assembled plates. The systems are efficient, but have high set up costs and can require significant maintenance work.

French startup Elbé Pétro has developed an alternative technology inspired by duckweed – small aquatic plants that free-float on still water ponds – to help address chemical evaporation in storage tanks.

“Duckweeds are able to cover entirely all still water pond surfaces, regardless of its geometry. When boats move, duckweeds are pushed sideward to then return to a balanced position closing the plant layer. Duckweeds’ natural adaptation skills inspired us to develop a floating roof of independent floaters,” Elbé Pétro founder Laurent Bédel said.

The company designed, developed, commercialized and patented a system called ERIS (Evaporation Reduction Intelligent System) that uses independent floaters. The floaters’ design is optimized for a maximal coverage ratio, and can move to adapt to every specific internal tank geometry, including the presence of side pipes, gauges, ladders and more.

The biomimetic solution has won first prize from two French industry associations: for innovation from oil and gas professional association GEP-AFTP in 2013; and for environment from the national chemicals manufacturer association UIC in 2016.

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