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Meet Justine Bernard, Hydrogen Storage Technical Manager

Empowering Innovation and Women in Engineering
04/18/2024
Careers

 

Since joining Vallourec in 2008, Justine Bernard has become an expert in the company’s core business and is now developing low-carbon solutions with the Vallourec® New Energies team.

Her hydrogen knowhow makes her one of the key Women@Vallourec advancing the energy transition.

What is your role at Vallourec?

I work as a Technical Manager for Hydrogen Storage as part of the Vallourec® New Energies team, which is responsible for Vallourec’s portfolio of low-carbon solutions. This includes carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), geothermal energy, solar energy, and my key area of focus – hydrogen.


My role is to develop, qualify and certify Delphy, Vallourec’s new solution for hydrogen storage. Delphy is an innovative storage solution for hydrogen, storing up to 100 tons of hydrogen in vertical, underground structures. When I first started as a Tech Manager, the construction of a demonstrator for Delphy had just been approved. I spent my first months in my new role project managing and overseeing the construction of this facility, which we inaugurated in December 2023.


In addition, I support marketing and business development efforts for Vallourec’s main pipe business, particularly for storage and the transportation of hydrogen.

What led you to join Vallourec?

I graduated in 2006 from the Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble with an engineering degree in materials science, and worked in metallurgy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Originally, I was looking for a job around Lyon or Grenoble – at least, until I interviewed with Bertine Orlans, who would become my first manager at Vallourec. She was an incredibly inspiring woman and described her profession with great passion, so I decided to move to Valenciennes and joined Vallourec in 2008.


Of course, I had to learn almost everything about seamless pipe manufacturing, VAM® connections, and the oil and gas market. I started out in research and development (R&D), working on development, improvement, and qualification of tubulars in carbon and stainless steels. There was a learning curve of around six months. During this time, I also got up to speed on the various standards related to oil and gas.


A similar process happened when I moved to the New Energies team last year. The risks linked to the transport and storage of hydrogen, as well as the risks linked to pressure equipment, require the mastery of very specific standards. It was a whole new area to discover.

What do you love about your job?

I work with motivated people who are passionate about their jobs and the solutions we produce.

Personally, I am fascinated with the idea of transformation – of matter, especially. After all these years I’m still thrilled every time I visit a mill. Seeing materials heated to more than 900º C, watching pieces of steel become pipes more than 10 meters long – it’s amazing. There’s something truly beautiful about it.

Photo taken at the signing of the partnership agreement between NextChem and Vallourec

More broadly, I like being part of the energy transition. Working with the New Energies team puts me at the heart of Vallourec’s focus on low-carbon activities. Our customers need real strategies to lower their emissions, and solutions like Delphy will help meet that demand. I was delighted when we inaugurated the demonstrator in December, and I’m looking forward to installing Delphy at a customer site – hopefully next year.

What skills have helped you succeed in your job?

As someone who focuses on innovation and new technology, I need to be reliable, resilient and perseverant. My job is to create and develop solutions that don’t fully exist yet, even if they do incorporate certain proven technologies. My team and I have to demonstrate the safety of solutions like Delphy to customers, have all our technical and commercial arguments secured, and still roll out on schedule. To move quickly, I need to be flexible and creative, and to convince customers of the advantages of our solutions, I need to be clear, conscientious, and rigorous.

What advice would you give to other women in your field?

Join us! Working at Vallourec is exciting – there are dozens of interesting topics to explore, and a general atmosphere of innovation and camaraderie.

Justine Bernard
Hydrogen Storage Technical Manager

In New Energies, we have a fairly even split of men and women. That said, as we develop the hydrogen activities, I’d be happy to see more women bring their engineering expertise and their personality.

I’d also encourage women to join us in developing Delphy if they’re interested in taking an active part in a real, safe, cost- and space-efficient solution for hydrogen storage. Developing a technology like this has been deeply enriching, bringing my team closer together. And I am convinced that the months and years to come will be even more enriching!