Lydéric Bocquet is one of the three recipients of the CNRS 2024 Innovation Medal, which rewards since 2011 male and female scientists whose research has led to ground-breaking technological, economic, therapeutic or social innovation. He will received his medal in December 2024.

The thousand potential applications of fluid control on the nanoscale

Water is a ‘blue gold’ that never ceases to amaze us. Recent nanofluidics research has shown that water flows acquire properties at nanometric scales – such as when passing through carbon nanotubes – that can lead to unexpected potential applications. Generating electricity, writing at nanoscales, removing alcohol from drinks and (coming soon) desalinating seawater are just some of the applications that have derived from of Lydéric Bocquet’s basic research. He is a CNRS research director at LPENS in the Micromegas team, who has now filed twelve patents (notably on membranes) and created four start-ups.

Sweetch Energy was founded in 2015 and works on creating renewable energy from the differences in salinitybetween seawater and freshwater. Lydéric Bocquet explains the incredible potential of this “carbon-free, non-intermittent energy” given that “the potential global reservoir is estimated at between 1000 and 2000 GW – the equivalent of 1000 to 2000 nuclear reactors when there are currently only 400 nuclear reactors on Earth”. The recently launched Ilion start-up also draws on the ocean to develop an innovative seawater desalination technique. Since 2020 Hummink has marketed a nanometric printing technology that works on large surfaces with no need for a clean room. Finally, Altr uses graphene oxide membranes to remove alcohol from drinks like wine and beer. Lydéric Bocquet’s work has a wide variety of applications, reinforced by the fact that he is also a scientific consultant for various companies, including Saint-Gobain and Plastic Omnium. At the same time he is developing his other research areas (like designing ionic nanomachines reproducing some biological functions, or quantum engineering of nanofluid flows).

Video (in french) on osmotic energy
CNRS le Journal article
CNRS press release

Affiliation author:
Laboratoire de physique de L’École normale supérieure (LPENS, ENS Paris/CNRS/Sorbonne Université/Université de Paris)

Corresponding author : Lydéric Bocquet
Communication contact: Communication team