Meet the Scientist #8 – Isaline Gravaud

Isaline Gravaud is an engineer in the Safety and Performance of Subsurface Uses unit of the Risk and Prevention division of the French Geological Survey (BRGM). She works on risk management of subsurface uses, with a special focus on CO2 geological storage. Since she joined BRGM in 2009, she has been involved in many research projects studying risks of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS). Her multidisciplinary training enabled her to tackle a variety of topics: well integrity, mechanical and chemical risks, as well as the conflicts of subsurface uses and acceptability aspects.

An engineer among geologists

Isaline has an atypical profile for a BRGM researcher, having graduated from an engineering school. She ended up following a career in geosciences because she was always strongly interested in Earth sciences and environmental issues. And the love for the mountains also helped. Isaline: “Maybe spending all my holidays since I was a child in the mountains, hiking, climbing, and enjoying the beautiful landscapes of the Mont-Blanc range has something to do with this choice.”.

Solutions in the underground

With a growing concern about environmental issues, especially global warming, Isaline has been focussing her research in the CCUS topic. Isaline believes the underground can offer solutions for the energy transition. Isaline: “In particular, concerning reduction of greenhouse gases emissions, I believe that the CCUS technology is prone to participate in drastically short-cutting the CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.”.

She is currently involved in two projects:

  • The European project STRATEGY CCUS that aims to support the development of CCUS in 8 promising regions by producing, for each region, local development plans and business models tailored to industry’s needs. Isaline is in charge of the 2 French regions (Paris Basin and Rhone Valley), collecting data for CO2 emissions, storage capacity, transport network, ways of CO2 utilisation, but also for stakeholders involvement.
  • The project CO2SERRE, funded by the French region Centre-Val de Loire. The aim is to assess the techno-economic and environmental feasibility of a CCUS project in Centre-Val de Loire: capturing CO2 from biomass industries (biomass plants, sugar refinery, etc.), using it to feed local greenhouses to boost plants growth and storing the CO2 surplus underground in deep geological formations. Isaline is the coordinator of this project.

Growing importance of subsurface management

Isaline is involved in one of the pillars of GeoConnect³d, studying the subsurface management issue. This will be an important outcome of the project, together with the geomanifestations and the structural framework. Isaline: “With the actual growth of underground uses  – for example for water supply, geothermal energy, hydrocarbon production or storage – and the forthcoming development of new underground uses for energy transition (CO2 storage, energy storage, etc.), arises the question of managing the subsurface to optimise its use and at the same time avoid conflicts.”.

In this task, Isaline sees the concept of geomanifestations as a good way to explain to non-initiated people the role of geology with concrete everyday life examples. Isaline: “For most people, deep subsurface is an unknown world, prone to misconceptions. Geomanifestations will help the underground come closer to them!”.