The Gisfi is a multidisciplinary consortium which has created an experimental platform to increase knowledge for the sustainable management of degraded areas.
The GISFI was created in 2000 by the University of Lorraine and four national research institutes, CNRS, INRA, BRGM and INERIS. A strong partnership has been developed with industrial partners, companies and administrative institutions. Academic research is being conducted to better understand the fate and effects of pollutants in soils and the functioning and evolution of man-made ecosystems. In addition, thanks to the partnership with industry, GISFI encourages the development and optimization of innovative treatment technologies as part of a strategy to redevelop industrial brownfields. Experiments are conducted not only in the laboratory, but also in the field. In particular, they use an experimental platform equipped with instruments that make it possible to study the fate and impact of pollutants and the evolution of soils, and to test treatment solutions in real conditions, with the monitoring of a wide range of biological, chemical and physical parameters. The experimental platform offers a range of instruments for integrated study of soil behavior, evolution of pollution and effects on organisms and treatment, and a series of large lysimeters of various types, including lysimeter plots and lysimeter columns. The GISFI has also greatly contributed to the structuration of research in the region and has established a strong identity in the management and innovation of degraded and polluted sites and soils.
The experimental platform was supported by the State of France, the Region, the Department council, and ERDF for about 3 M€. To operate, the platform needs 200 k€ per year. Research is conducted with national (Anr, Ademe, PIA), European (Feder, Interreg) and joint research/industry programs.
Evidence of success
Thanks to the experimental platform, the research groups developed original research which significantly increased knowledge about degraded and polluted sites. Several regional, national and international projects were initiated with 90 doctorates and more than 400 publications. Conferences and seminars were organized to disseminate the findings among the scientific and economic communities. Technologic developments led to the creation of start-ups and increased the potential of companies.
The project was strongly supported by the politicians concerned by the needed economic redevelopment of the region following the industrial crisis of the 80’s, 90’s. This support was a major factor for the establishment of the Gisfi, which, in turn, endorsed a high responsibility.
Potential for learning or transfer
GISFI is also a success because it has created synergies between disciplines, between public research and companies. It can be considered as a model of multidisciplinary project which was built over the years. Several transversal projects were funded by the regional, national and European institution. Two companies were created (MicroHumus and Econick). A similar structure is under creation in China (Guangzhou) in the frame of the close cooperation that has been established between some labs that belong to the Gisfi and a Chinese group. This will enhance the scientific production and development of new technologies, including nanoremediation. Also projects are underway to contribute to the transfer of the concept to other academic institutions. The Gisfi has also significantly contributed to the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students in the area of environmental science and engineering.
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