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The research theme OPTIMISTHE (Optimization of the thermal properties of materials and inspection of structures by thermography) concerns two aspects:

  • The design and characterization of innovative materials for buildings and civil engineering;
  • The development of in-situ diagnostic methods for buildings and civil engineering infrastructure.

The work of this research theme is both experimental and of modeling and numerical simulation.

Optimization of thermal properties of materials

This first topic of research aims to test in the laboratory innovative solutions for the design of materials with specific thermal properties with application in the field of construction. In addition, the materials developed are then tested at the scale of walls in order to test their performance in real-life situations.

The materials considered primarily are:

  • Building and insulation materials including renewable bio-based resources: the aim here is to include currently undervalued natural materials (mainly plant fibres) from conventional building materials (gypse, concrete, etc.) or to use undervalued renewable resources (date palm wood, Posidonia Oceanica…) or plants with low environmental impact (e.g. flax fibers).
  • Building materials including phase-change materials (MCP) for temporary energy storage: one of the applications of these materials aims to improve the comfort of buildings by limiting heating and/or air conditioning consumption through temporary storage of energy in latent heat form. The second application concerns the preservation of a positive surface temperature of road pavements in winter conditions, which would limit the use of saline solutions that have a high cost and a high environmental impact. Different solutions (type and packaging of MCPs) are tested according to the applications involved. An important part of this research axis concerns the intensification of heat transfers in these materials, necessary for optimizing the phenomenon of energy storage/destocking.

Inspection of structures by thermography

This second area of research concerns the use of infrared thermography as a quantitative diagnostic tool. Two applications are targeted:

  • Diagnosis of thermal insulation of building walls: this theme is currently being addressed in the framework of the ANR RESBATI project, which aims to develop a device to measure the thermal resistance of building walls. This device must be able to be used for the diagnosis of existing buildings, self-control on site and a diagnosis at the reception of works (new or renovation). This project is carried out in collaboration with CSTB, LNE, IFSTTAR, CEREMA, THEMACS Engineering and AFNOR. At the same time, researchs to develop methods for detecting and quantifying energy losses by thermal bridges (irregularities particularly related to thermal insulation attachment systems) has been undertaken in collaboration with Saint-Gobain Research Paris company.
  • Road infrastructure monitoring: this work involves the development of methods for early detection of non-emerging defects in road pavements on the one hand and thermal mapping of roads in order to locate areas of high risk of ice occurrence in winter conditions, allowing for a limitation of salting operations of roads. This research is carried out in collaboration with CEREMA, IFSTTAR and THEMACS Engineering.

This work requires numerous characterizations of optical properties of materials (emissivity, albedo). Specific measurement devices are developed to study these properties in-situ.


The OPTIMISTHE theme manages two experimental platforms:

  • The PROTHERM platform which is a pool of laboratory exeprimental devices for the characterization of thermophysical properties (thermal conductivity and diffusivity, emissivity, solar reflection factor) and thermal analysis studies (Cp and phase transition temperature measurements by DSC, thermogravimetric analysis with analysis of IR spectrometry degradation compounds, viscosity and module measurements shear, dielectric permittivity measures) of the materials studied in the context of research projects. The platform includes both commercial devices and home-made experimental benches developed by the CERTES.
  • The PANISSE platform, which is an occupied residential building, instrumented during a renovation operation in 2011. This building is used for testing methods of diagnosis the insulation of building walls in real conditions. The building will be used in particular in the framework of the ANR RESBATI project. The PANISSE platform has been labelled “Observation Service” of OSU EFLUVE.It is co-led by CERTES and THEMACS Engineering.

Members of the OPTIMISTHE Theme

  • Abderrahim BOUDENNE, HDR Associated Professor, CNU Section 62
  • Yves CANDAU, Professor, CNU Section 60
  • Nawal CHENNOUF, PhD student
  • Nicolas DUJARDIN, Associated Professor, CNU Section 33
  • Moussa ELIDI, PhD student
  • Vincent FEUILLET, Associated Professor, CNU Section 62
  • Magali FOIS, Associated Professor, CNU Section 62
  • Adrien FRANÇOIS, PhD student
  • Thanh-Tung HA, PhD student
  • Ons HAMDAOUI, Assistant Professor (ATER)
  • Laurent IBOS, HDR Associated Professor, CNU Section 63, Theme Coordinator
  • Mustapha KARKRI, HDR Associated Professor, CNU Section 62
  • Manel KRA-EM, PhD student
  • Mohamed LARBI YOUCEF, Researcher
  • Atef MAZIOUD, Associated Professor, CNU Section 62
  • Thibault PERIN, UPEC Study Engineer, thermal analysis, maintenance of the PROTHERM platform
  • Thouraya SALEM, ATER

The OPTIMISTHE theme also regularly welcomes PhD students as well as visiting professors from foreign universities.


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