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 be easily captured. Research results were published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.
The organism – Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 – produced ethylene at a high rate and is still being improved. 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. Conversely, the process recycles carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, since the organism utilizes the gas as part of its metabolic cycle.
Ethylene is the most widely produced petrochemical feedstock in the world. But currently it is produced only from fossil fuels, and its production is the industry’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Steam cracking of long-chain hydrocarbons from petroleum produces 1.5 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of ethylene produced.
The NREL process, by contrast, produces ethylene by using carbon dioxide, which is food for the bacteria. That could mean a savings of six tons of carbon dioxide emissions for every ton of ethylene produced -- the three tons that would be emitted by tapping fossil fuels and another three tons absorbed by the bacteria.
NREL principal investigator, Jianping Yu, says it’s the difference between using old photons and new photons. Ethylene from old photons is the ethylene produced from fossil fuels, derived from photosynthetic organisms that captured the sun’s energy millions of years ago. The NREL process uses new photons that are currently hitting plants, algae and bacteria capable of producing fuels directly.
Ten years ago, a group of Japanese scientists led by Takahira Ogawa at Sojo University was the first to try to produce ethylene via photosynthetic conversion in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus 7942. But by the fourth generation, the bacteria were defunct, producing no ethylene at all, Yu said.
NREL turned to a different cyanobacterium, Synechocystis 6803, which scientists had been researching for a long time, knowing how to change its DNA sequences. They manipulated the sequence to design an ethylene-producing gene to be more stable and more active than the original version.
This process resulted in an organism that uses carbon dioxide and water to produce ethylene, but doesn’t lose its ability to produce ethylene over time. The product ethylene is non-toxic to the producing microorganisms and is not a food source for other organisms that could potentially contaminate an industrial process.
Textiles | On 26th May 2018
The European Union is all set to begin negotiations for free trade...
Textiles | On 26th May 2018
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a Withhold...
We are ready to adopt or follow every opportunity
Textile industry, India
Such fairs are a must for industry to showcase new innovations
Navigating through catalogues is a bit hasslesome
Conceived in Europe and curated in New Delhi, NeceSera is a...
Manila-based CustomThread is a start-up offering premium custom apparel...
Reckon Industries adapts latest systems for manufacturing from designing...
Steve Cole of Xerium Technologies discusses the industry. Xerium is the...
Schlegel und Partner
Silke Brand-Kirsch, executive partner of Schlegel und Partner, a leading...
Nature Works LLC
Eamonn Tighe, Fibres and Nonwovens - Business Development Manager of...
Yash P. Kotak
Bombay Hemp Company
One of the directors of Bombay Hemp Company, Yash P. Kotak, speaks to...
Silvia Venturini Fendi
"Yes, my confidence and positive attitude are my strengths and should be...
<div>Delhi-based Gritstones Clothing offers quality and exemplary style...