NREL reports breakthrough in ethylene production

By: Steve Wednesday September 26, 2012 0 comments Tags: biofuels, ethylene, Golden, NREL, photosynthesis

NREL logo
GOLDEN - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have demonstrated a better way to use photosynthesis to produce ethylene, a breakthrough that could change the way materials, chemicals and transportation fuels are made - and help clean the air.

NREL scientists introduced a gene into a cyanobacterium and demonstrated that the organism remained stable through at least four generations, producing ethylene gas that could easily be captured.

Research results were published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

The organism produced ethylene at a high rate and is still being improved, NREL said. The laboratory-demonstrated rate of 170 milligrams of ethylene per liter per day is greater than the rates reported for the photosynthetic production by microorganisms of ethanol, butanol or other algae biofuels.

The process does not release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere but instead recycles carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas - since the organism utilizes the gas as part of its metabolic cycle.

NREL said it is initiating discussions with potential industry partners to help move the process to commercial scale.

For more information, visit


About the Author: Steve