Plants to purify soil and water

Plants, an ally in soil decontamination? This is the major discovery of Claude Grison, director of the Laboratory of Bio-inspired Chemistry and Ecological Innovations (CNRS/UM). Her work has been awarded the prestigious François Sommer Prize 2016, which recognizes innovative initiatives in the relationship between man and nature.

Claude Grison awarded the 2014 CNRS Medal for Innovation

Here's a research project that gives substance to the concept of green chemistry, combining ecological restoration and industrial activity in the same process.
Winner of the CNRS innovation medal in 2014, Claude Grison is behind a real tour de force: having succeeded, with her teams, in regenerating polluted soils thanks to the intervention of so-called "hyperaccumulator" plants.
The advantage of these super-plants? Their ability to absorb excess heavy metals from the soil. The research teams at the Bio-inspired Chemistry and Ecological Innovations Laboratory have succeeded in giving these plants a second life, thanks to the development of an innovative process for reusing the leaves.
The heavy metals extracted in this way are of prime interest to cosmetics and pharmaceutical laboratories. These industrial players have a crucial need for metals such as zinc, which are becoming increasingly rare, to be used as catalysts in chemical reactions. A "biobased" industrial process with a bright future: This research, which led to the creation of a start-up in 2011, not only led to the signing of a partnership with Chimex, a subsidiary of L'Oréal, but also to the development of similar projects in Gabon, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and New Caledonia...
Claude Grison is now working on the development of an equivalent system, adapted this time to aquatic environments, in order to tackle the growing problem of river pollution...
Photo credit: CNRS