Biodegradability tests for chemical substances

Our experts in biodegradability and ecotoxicity study the biodegradability of chemical substances for which easy biodegradability, OECD 301b, is not proven.

Assessing the environmental profile of UVCBs, RBT, and other complex chemicals is critical to meeting societal concerns and REACH requirements.

On a daily basis, we provide R&D services to evaluate the biodegradability of chemical substances. We also lead collaborative research projects to meet the ecotoxicity characterization needs.


Strategy and consulting

Diagnosis and selection

Process development

Process testing and validation

R&D projects

Rapid screening test for biodegradability

To assess the biodegradability of polymers and other chemical substances using a rapid, miniaturized and easily reproducible screening tests on an industrial scale.

In a nutshell
Screening of chemical substancesEvaluation of RBT Ecotoxicity analysis
  • Screening of chemical substances
  • Evaluation of RBT (Ready Biodegradability Tests), intrinsic biodegradability and acute ecotoxicity
  • Ecotoxicity analysis – substance and by-products : microbial models, algae and microcrustaceans

Biodegradation assesment of chemical substances and mixtures

You want to measure the biodegradability of your substance? Our experts have developed an early screening test to measure the biodegradation of UVCB chemicals and respond appropriately to the REACH regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1907, 2006).

In a nutshell
complex and recalcitrant substancesorganic loadSafety characterizationDevelopment of evaluation proceduresinoculumdispersion of the substancemonitoring biodegradation
  • Evaluation of complex and recalcitrant substances
  • Measurement of the organic load
  • Safety characterization
  • Development of evaluation procedures adapted to problematic substances
  • Work on the inoculum: adaptation, acclimatization, F/M ratio
  • Work on the conditions of dispersion of the substance: ultrasound, third party solvents…
  • Identification of the most suitable metrological solution for monitoring biodegradation


F. Brillet, ORCID, M. Cregut, M. J. Durand, C. Sweetlove, J. C. Chenèble, J. L’Haridonb  et G. Thouand. Biodegradability assessment of complex chemical mixtures using a carbon balance approach. Green Chemistry journal, issue 5, 2018.

Predictive analysis of the chemical substance environmental persistence

A predictive screening test to estimate the environmental persistence of a chemical in different receiving environments.

In a nutshell
seasonality impact of the chemical persistenceChemical ecotoxicity definitionindependant biodegradation testsEnvironmental compartments identification receiving environmental conditions
  • Tests under different abiotic conditions to simulate the seasonality impact of the chemical persistence
  • Chemical ecotoxicity definition
  • 80 independant biodegradation tests
  • Environmental compartments identification in wich the chemical is persistent and should not be released
  • Optimal receiving environmental conditions identified for the substance to be biodegraded


Brillet François, Maul Armand, Durand Marie-José et Gérald Thouand. From laboratory to environmental conditions: a new approach for chemical’s biodegradability assessment. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 18684–18693 (2016).

High-throughput screening biodegradation test for complex substances

Instrumentation and automation of screening systems to meet OECD 301 and OECD 302 standards.

In a nutshell
Continuous monitoringContinuous measurementNon-invasive microplate sensorsautomatic measuring system
  • Continuous monitoring of the biodegradation variables of a reaction environment (according to the OECD 301, 302 standards)
  • Continuous measurement of oxygen and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the air pressure.
  • Non-invasive microplate sensors: fluorescent optical oxygen sensor
  • An automatic measuring system establishing a material balance to evaluate the biodegradation of complex substances. Discover the biodegradability measurement solution developed in partnership with Tame Water, subsidiary of TRONICO.


Cregut, M., Jouanneau, S., Brillet, F. et al. High throughput and miniaturised systems for biodegradability assessments. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 9545–9552 (2014).

Biosensors development

Biological sensors and non-destructive analysis methods for the biodetection of chemical and biological agents.

In a nutshell
quantification of pollutantsrapid and non-destructive analysis methodsEcotoxicity effluent measurementdetection of pathogens in agri-food products
  • Design of bioelements for the quantification of pollutants
  • Development of rapid and non-destructive analysis methods
  • Ecotoxicity effluent measurement : integrated screening methods are used (microalgae, bacteria, microcrustaceans)
  • Rapid and non-destructive detection of pathogens in agri-food products (e.g. salmonella spp)

Engineering at Capacités

Our biodegradability experts carry out their engineering work directly in the research laboratories of Nantes Université, in particular at the GEPEA. On a daily basis, they combine technical means and scientific discoveries to meet your R&D challenges.

Our projects

Challenges we’ve met

Characterizing ecotoxicity in complex substances

The client concerned is a leading player in the specialty ingredients sector for health and beauty. In 2019, it reaffirmed its confidence in Capacités and the GEPEA laboratory by requesting that their teams assess a new polymer’s ecotoxicity.

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L’Oréal and Capacités break new ground in evaluating biodegradability

L’Oréal called upon the experts at the GEPEA Laboratory and Capacités in order to assist in bridging this methodological gap. The resulting new process has served to assist L’Oréal in developing methods for evaluating the biodegradability of their products, thus allowing them to better adhere to the strict regulatory requirements.

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Industrializing a non-invasive procedure for analyzing contaminants

Tame-Water is specialized in designing and marketing innovative solutions for monitoring and evaluating water quality. The company invests heavily in research and development for global, innovative solutions. It wanted to approve the use of a simpler, faster new technology for detecting microplastics in water. Tame-Water turned to the ecotoxicology experts at CAPACITÉS and the GEPEA laboratory to test and approve a fast, non-invasive method of s…

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Facilitating toxicity and biodegradability evaluations

Industrial companies test their products before they arrive on the market to ensure they comply with environmental standards – and especially to determine their level of biodegradability. One leading player in the chemical industry transforms raw materials and supplies specific ingredients to different industries, including cosmetology, pharmaceuticals and even agri-food. This company chose Capacités to test the biodegradability and to assess …

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An automated bioreactor that facilitates biodegradability assessments

Biodegradability is at the heart of environmental issues, especially when assessing the risks linked to chemical substances. But the tests used to evaluate these substances’ biodegradation are complicated and time-consuming. The collaborative project Evabio has come up with a methodological and technological breakthrough solution that aims to use automated measurement equipment to facilitate biodegradation assessment. The University of Nantes was…

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