FONTS-BOUILLANTS

A project acting locally and for the ecological transition !

THE PROJECT IN A NUTSHELL

The Nièvre region is a french area known since multiple centuries to hold carbon dioxide rich water springs initially exploited as thermal baths then as mineral water.

Recent research work and field measurements of the Saint-Parize-Le-Châtel springs revealed its high helium potential, currently naturally seeping to surface with carbon dioxide through a major fault, well known by geologists : the Saint-Parize fault.

In order to study a possible joint valuation of these two gases and thus satisfy locally and in an eco-responsible way two markets currently subject to regular supply shortages, 45-8 ENERGY has applied for an Exploration license (Permis Exclusif de Recherches - PER) for helium and carbon dioxide over an area of 251km², currently being examinated by the French Ecological Transition Ministry (Ministère de la Transition Ecologique - MTE) together with the Economy Ministry.

The license application was requested for a 5 years period, an appropriate duration to progressively carry out the necessary work on the entire permit.

THE FRENCH EXPLORATION LICENSE (PER)

Is issued by the French State
after completing a specific process.

Is limited to one or several specific resources, over a defined scope and over a limited period.

Is guaranteeing the exclusivity to its owner over the defined period.

Ensures that the operating company has the required skills, fulfills its commitments and respects the environment in which it operates.

WHY CARBON DIOXIDE ?

Is essential for the food industry (especially beverages), but also cryogenics or firefighting.

Despite the unprecedented volume of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, its concentration unfortunately remains too low to be valorised.

Enables to locally valorise a valuable and seeked resource while avoiding a direct release into the atmosphere which is actively contributing to global warming.

Helium and carbon dioxide are not flammable gases,
they therefore present no risk of explosion or fire.

THE OBJECTIVES
OF THE FONTS-BOUILLANTS EXPLORATION LICENSE

THE PERMIT AREA

The exploration license covers 251 sqkm of the Nièvre department, spread over 12 municipalities. Most of exploration work will be concentrated in the municipality of Saint-Parize-le-Châtel but might also extend to the following municipalities:

•  Azy-le-Vif,
•  Chantenay-Saint-Imbert,
•  Chevenon,
•  Dornes,
•  Luthenay-Uxeloup,
•  Magny-Cours,
•  Neuville-les-Decize,
•  Saint-Parize-en-Viry,
•  Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier,
•  Sermoise-sur-Loire,
•  Toury-sur-Jour.

THE WORK PROGRAM

The planned exploration work remains small scale and will have a very moderate and strictly temporary impact on the environment. It mainly consists of geophysical data acquisitions enabling a safe and efficient subsurface characterization.


Work program description :

Consists, using rock samples studied in the field, to represent precisely in a map the geological structures of the area.
Consists of analyzing in the laboratory the composition of small gas volumes sampled from the soil using a syringe and a cannula driven one meter into the ground.
This technique enables to deduce the subsurface geology by assessing electrical conductivity variations in the soil. Small electrodes are planted in the ground 10 cm deep and connected to a measuring device.
Using a gravimeter (small portable device), enables to measure minor variations of the Earth's gravitational field and to deduce the composition of the rocks in the subsurface.
This method consists in measuring precisely the natural Earth's magnetic field using a drone in order to detect variation in the subsurface geology.
Drilling is the only method which can physically assess at a given location and depth the presence of helium. Lasting a few weeks, it allows to describe the underlying rocks over several hundred meters. All equipment is removed once completed. Such method is also commonly used for water boreholes, currently more than 53 000 in France !
  • Consists, using rock samples studied in the field, to represent precisely in a map the geological structures of the area.
  • Consists of analyzing in the laboratory the composition of small gas volumes sampled from the soil using a syringe and a cannula driven one meter into the ground.
  • This technique enables to deduce the subsurface geology by assessing electrical conductivity variations in the soil. Small electrodes are planted in the ground 10 cm deep and connected to a measuring device.
  • Using a gravimeter (small portable device), enables to measure minor variations of the Earth's gravitational field and to deduce the composition of the rocks in the subsurface.
  • This method consists in measuring precisely the natural Earth's magnetic field using a drone in order to detect variation in the subsurface geology.
  • Drilling is the only method which can physically assess at a given location and depth the presence of helium. Lasting a few weeks, it allows to describe the underlying rocks over several hundred meters. All equipment is removed once completed. Such method is also commonly used for water boreholes, currently more than 53 000 in France !

WHAT'S NEXT ?

The firm work program of the Fonts-Bouillant project firstly aims to assess the feasibility of the project. The way forward therefore depends on the results that will be obtained.

If the exploration results are encouraging, a production pilot could be considered. Its associated infrastructures will be compact, equivalent to or even less than an agricultural shed. The industrial historical site of Fonts-Bouillant which produced mineral water and sodas from 1895 to 1975 would be an ideal location for revitalizing an industrial heritage today abandoned.

A PROJECT PROMOTING
THE ECOLOGICAL TRANSITION

This project led by 45-8 ENERGY aims to be environment friendly and committed to the ecological transition and therefore received the “Greentech Innovation” label on September 2020 from the Minister of Ecological Transition.

The captation and valuation of the naturally seeping carbon dioxide (thus contributing to the greenhouse effect) is today considered. The future production site is being brainstormed in such a way to reconcile industrial activity and respect for the environment through the rehabilitation of a historic industrial site and innovative co-valuations.

A PILOT PROJECT

 

The Fonts-Bouillant project is closely linked to our PROMET-Hé (MEmbranaire PROced for the Treatment of Helium) R&D development project which consists in developing an eco-responsible, local, compact process requirring a much lower energy consumption than the reference processes. This project, carried out in partnership with the Laboratoire de Réactions & Génie des Procédés (LRGP) and the CNRS, may ultimately allow French and European helium sector to emerge with a first application on the Fonts-Bouillants license.

Indeed, we plan to implement locally a mobile pilot unit dedicated to surface separation of helium and carbon dioxide. This has a dual objective: to validate technical and economic viability of the Fonts-Bouillant project and test the PROMET-Hé technologies before deployment on an industrial scale.

The PROMET-Hé project was aknowledged by the French Ministry in charge of Industry and BPI France which has retained the project as part of the call for projects "Recovery plan for industry - Strategic sectors" thus engaging to support our forecast investment up to up to 52%, testifying to its contribution to national sovereignty.


KEY MILESTONES