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Activated Charcoal

E. Jardin & C. Schoch

Edith Fardet holds a PhD in chemical physics from the University of Burgundy. For the past two years she has been working in a SME in Bordeaux specialized in recycling biomass and waste to produce new carbonaceous materials.

Thanks to regional co-financing and in conjunction with the French Petroleum Institute (IFP), during her doctorate Edith did research on the separation of gaseous molecules for new fuels in porous materials (zeolite to filter hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and odors). Without really wanting to teach, she already saw herself in a company such as Veolia or Degrémont, but it turned out to be harder to get a job than she thought. After a period of unemployment, Edith accepted an eight-month postdoc at the INSA in Toulouse "to go from gas to liquid, on water treatment by activated charcoal."

Virtual networks are definitely worthwhile
With her enriched portfolio of skills, Edith went back on the hunt, sending out spontaneous applications, replying to job ads posted on Monster, APEC and ABG, attending a workshop with the unemployment office on the use of networks, which gave her the idea of filing her resume on Viadéo "with activated charcoal as a keyword." Her efforts finally paid off. The founder of Thermya, who patented a unique process in 1996 to resolve problems of disposing of treated timber such as telephone poles, railroad ties or timber from demolitions, called her after they were put in contact via Viadéo. He was eager to meet her, quickly. "One week later," Edith remembers, "I visited the company and my boss presented me with problems to solve and the aims of the mission. I had a few ideas but, having been burned by a previous interview in a startup where my ideas had been used without my getting hired, I remained fairly cautious by giving general suggestions. He offered me a short-term contract which last April was turned into a long-term contract."

R&D, science and clients
What position was she hired in? "I'm product development manager, which means that I am the interface between industrial clients whose technical expectations as regards raw materials I have to evaluate, and our R&D to develop new carbonaceous products and so adapt existing processes, and finally public research labs by drawing on their expertise," Edith explains. She keeps a close eye on changes in European and national regulations as regards marketing recycled materials.

Is a PhD necessary? "Yes," claims Edith, "because my work requires a command of a wide variety of very complex technical aspects and to be able to talk about them with specialists."

2004: PhD in physical chemistry, University of Burgundy
2005: research engineer, INSA of Toulouse
2006: product development manager, Thermya in Bordeaux