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Depolluting ALGAE

A series of short movies showing how neutron experiments are prepared or performed. Some of these movies have an historical interest since they captured important moments in the life of the ILL.

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Films and animations

The depolluting alga "Coccomyxa actinabiotis" - a joint CEA and ILL initiative

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Coccomyxa actinabiotis is a depolluting, radiation-resistant alga that spontaneously grows in environments that until now were thought to be perfectly unsuitable for sustaining life. This poly-extremophile alga is extremely robust since it is resistant to all of the following:

  • demineralised water (highly hypotonic solution)
  • the lack of nutrients (filtered demineralised water)
  • the toxity of metals (ions of heavy metals in solution usually lethal for life)
  • very high radioactivity levels

Indeed it does more than survive. It is capable of concentrating pollutants inside its cells. Scientists at the ILL and the CEA-DSV-LPCV, have carried out research in an environment specially controlled for plant cultures. The concentration process is so efficient that it is now being evaluated for water depollution purposes. Given Coccomyxa actinabiotis' ability to resist radioactivity, it could even be used as a method for treating radioactive effluent much more cheaply and environmentally friendly. This clearly has its applications in nuclear installations and water depollution.

Below is a series of 4 videos filmed during experiments performed at the CEA-DSV-LPCV, ESRF-ID22 and ILL.

Related scientific papers:

  • C. Rivasseau et al, Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 1230-1239
  • T. Leonardo et al, Metallomics. 2014, 6, 316-329
  • D. De Gouvion Saint Cyr et al, Separation and Purification Technology. 02/2014; 125:126-135


  • WO 2011/098979A3, FR 10/00578, CA2789376A1, CN102869764A, EP2534241A2, US8673620, US20130078707

The movies

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1-Sample irradiation at the ILL

2-Growing and measuring irradiated samples

3-Locating pollutants with ID22

4-Bioreactors at lab-scale

The team

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Corinne RIVASSEAU <corinne.rivasseau (at)> - CEA/LPVC

Emmanuel FARHI  <farhi (at)> - Institut Laue-Langevin

Diane De GOUVION SAINT CYR - PhD student (ILL & CEA) 2011-2014

     Décontamination de radionucléides dans des effluents liquides par une micro-algue : étude de faisabilité à l'échelle laboratoire et à l'échelle pilote.
     26 juin 2014, Université de Montpellier II, Spécialité : Génie des procédés.

Thomas LEONARDO - PhD student (ILL & CEA) 2011-2014
     Mécanismes d’accumulation et impact biologique de l’argent et du cobalt chez la micro-algue Coccomyxa actinabiotis
     12 décembre 2014, Université Joseph Fourier à Grenoble, Unité de Chimie et science du vivant et Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale.

Estelle COMPAGNON - Trainee ESPCI (ILL)
Vincent Marzlof - Trainee (ILL)
Anne Sophie Féret - Trainee (CEA)
Emmanuel Schmit  - Trainee (ILL)