CETRAHE (CEllule R&D d’Expertise et de TRAnsfert en TRAçages Appliqués à l’Hydrogéologie et à l’Environnement: R&D Expertise and Transfer Unit in Tracing Techniques Applied to Hydrogeology and the Environment) is an R&D unit of the Université d’Orléans which was created in April 2009 thanks to grants from the French State (DRRT Centre) and the Région Centre, as a technology transfer and development project in the 2007-13 State-Région Planning Contract. This project was set up as part of the cluster Durabilité de la Ressource en Eau Associée aux Milieux (DREAM; sustainability of water resources), which was initiated by local authorities via Orléans Val de Loire Technopole. This cluster, now Pôle DREAM Eau & Milieux, is officially accredited as a pôle de compétitivité dans le domaine des écotechnologies (ecotechnology competitiveness cluster).
CETRAHE is located on the premises of the engineering faculty, Polytech’Orléans. Its support laboratory is the Institut des Sciences de la Terre d’Orléans (Institute of Earth Sciences of Orléans/ISTO, Unité Mixte de Recherche 7327, University of Orléans, INSU/CNRS [National Institute of Earth Sciences of the French National Scientific Research Organisation], Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières/BRGM [French Geological Survey]). The continuing education activity of CETRAHE is conducted with the support of the Service de Formation Continue et d’apprentissage de l’Université (SeFCo; department of continuing education). It is financially managed by Direction Recherche et Partenariats de l'Université.
CETRAHE aims first to continue, deepen and broaden the research, dissemination of knowledge and expertise activities conducted at the University of Orléans by Michel Lepiller, until his death in 2006, in the field of artificial dye-tracing applied to hydrogeology and the environment, in order to support consultants and engineering offices, water industries, water boards, municipal technical services, research and control laboratories, etc.
Its advanced equipment in the field of detection and quantification of dye and salt tracers also allows the unit to support research laboratories, local authorities and industries in characterizing the composition, quality and pollutant load (fluorescent organic compounds, dissolved ions) of waters, solutions, leachates, etc.
CETRAHE is a partner in the Services Nationaux d’Observation “TOURBIERES” (Peatlands Observatory) coordinated by the OSUC (Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers en région Centre), and "KARST" (Karst Observatory), coordinated by the GéHCO (Laboratoire "GéoHydrosystèmes COntinentaux", University of Tours). CETRAHE also collaborates with BRGM through research projects (karst related risks [sinkholes], groundwater-river exchanges), and development in the field of tracing (TRAC software for assistance in tracing test interpretation, hydrogeological tracking database to make tracing data available, dissemination of knowledge on tracing method). CETRAHE also contributes to the activities of the Pôle de compétitivité écotechnologies DREAM Eau & Milieux - mainly as a technology and R&D platform.CETRAHE plays at the University of Orléans, within its territory (Orléans Métropole, Val d'Orléans, Centre-Val de Loire region) and beyond, a role of university extension.
The main areas of work of CETRAHE are:
- R & D applied to the improvement, facilitation and expansion of practices and interpretations of tracing techniques (better understanding of the behavior of tracers in the natural environment, finer discrimination between tracers and natural background and particulate matters in waters, development of IT tools to support the interpretation of tests, etc.);
- Consulting and analytical expertise, assistance in the implementation and interpretation of the tracing tests;
- Assistance with initial training, especially of students on geo-environment engineering courses, continuing training, dissemination of knowledge and information on tracing techniques and their applications to the sustainable management of water resources and the natural environment.
Led by a senior lecturer at Polytech’Orléans and researcher at ISTO, CETRAHE is composed of a research engineer as deputy director, a studies engineer, and is assisted by a Polytech’Orléans technician for training activities. In addition to Polytech, ISTO and BRGM, CETRAHE works with other university laboratories and research organizations, consulting firms, businesses and professional associations, certified hydrogeologists, local authorities, and associations such as Spéléologie Subaquatique Loiret (underwater speleologists) ou Les Amis des Sources.
CETRAHE is equipped with the most accurate laboratory apparatus able to detect and quantify fluorescent or saline tracers in waters, to characterize the composition and quality of waters and solutions (natural color, ionic composition, presence of particulate and dissolved organic and fluorescent compounds ...), as well as field materials to perform some of these determinations in situ or to collect water samples for laboratory analysis. These field devices may be made available to CETRAHE partners.