Meet Gabrielle Ménard, Liquefied Natural Gas Research Engineer at ENGIE CRIGEN
It was as a student at the Ecole Nationale des Mines that Gabrielle Ménard discovered her vocation: to play a central role in energy innovation. As a specialist in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), she works at CRIGEN, the ENGIE research center, where her work focuses on defining the role played by natural gas in the energy transition.
If you look hard enough, you can see how to change the world.
When the time comes to start focusing your studies, the choice can be difficult. Science or philosophy, maths, history or geography? Gabrielle Ménard decided to replace the "or" with "and". We meet an inquisitive researcher, who sees in energy innovation a way to be useful to all.
Gabrielle is a research engineer at the LNG division of CRIGEN, the ENGIE research centre dedicated to the gas industry, but she's also a violinist too. In work like in music, her approach is the same: "I like to collaborate, in a group. I prefer to play in an orchestra rather than alone. Together we can create great, productive things. " Her passion for energy began at the Ecole Nationale des Mines, one of France's most prominent engineering schools, first in Saint-Etienne, which she had chosen for its openness to management as well as for the quality of its technical training, then in Paris. Quickly realising that "without energy, nothing gets done", she began to study the methods and materials used to create it. Sensitive to sustainable development issues, Gabrielle did a research internship in Hong Kong on the development of biomass and conversion of food waste into energy. "I was hesitating between health and engineering. It was the social aspect that pushed me towards energy." It was a rewarding experience, but Gabrielle quickly realised the short-term difficulties of applying these pioneering methods. Back in France, she started looking for a more concrete focus, and she found it at Air Liquide, which introduced her to the thrills of cryogenics. Her work during this new internship was paradoxical: to support the industrialisation team in developing a module for preheating new equipment under controlled temperature, to -180°.
Forget the classic image of the researcher in a white coat, cold and distant, seated at their lab bench day in, day out. With a firm focus on culture and people, Gabrielle takes classes in art history, discovers a different European city every two months and runs the university's alumni association. "In Saint Etienne, I was a good student, which meant I was able to become representative of my course. I became very involved in relations between the students and the school, to create a good atmosphere. I had to speak in public, give speeches, manage networks and events. I was involved with many things, it opened my mind.”
A family passion
The change from nitrogen to liquefied natural gas (LNG) is perfectly logical, given that the first is transported at -180° and the second at -161°. But the arrival of Gabrielle at CRIGEN must still have made her dad smile, since his job is to build storage tanks for... LNG! Newly graduated, the young engineer has now realised her dream: joining a large French energy group, with headquarters in La Défense. "I am so lucky to have been offered this unique experience, at the heart of the challenges of energy transition.”
Gabrielle joined a team that boasts considerable expertise: 50 years since the establishment of the LNG chain. Her research extends from the liquefaction of natural gas to its small-scale distribution, as well as its transportation and storage. She explains the importance of optimising each step in order to promote the development of this CO2-efficient energy, destined to play a leading role in global energy transition: "Unlike nitrogen, LNG is a mixture of several components. It develops throughout its life, particularly during transport and when it returns to its gaseous state." Controlling this composition throughout the chain is essential, and each country has its own burner standards. "I am responsible for the development of an LNG behaviour software, which performs real-time calculations of the exact proportions of its components: methane, ethane, propane, butane, and so on." Another important issue: the evaporation of a small amount of LNG during transportation by tanker. Usually, the gas produced is used for the propulsion of the vessel, but if it remains stationary, the gas is lost. "We are looking to optimise the operation of LNG tankers by incorporating data from vessels in our thermodynamic models and our artificial intelligence." Fascinated by the maritime world and these floating factories, Gabrielle takes on project after project with enthusiasm. She works in liaison with all Group entities on very different topics, including a new type of terminal vessel that could power islands not connected to the grid, and a study to improve the design of liquefaction plants. "Since my arrival 18 months ago, I have made enormous progress, and developed my skills and responsibility.”
Gabrielle appreciates the autonomy she is given. "Our work is demanding but we finish early. This allows us to do other things on our own time, and managers respect our pastimes.”
She sees the future with optimism, convinced that the energy world will change significantly, and that ENGIE's strategy to develop decentralised and digitised solutions is the right one. "The Group has a very important strike force. It offers both technically exciting projects and career development opportunities in the changing context that is energy transition." She is ready to do whatever it takes to make things happen.