Hurricane Harvey has turned the world’s most widely-produced chemical, ethylene, into something of a rarer commodity because of refinery slowdowns. The US Department of Energy is supporting a project to produce transportation fuels via photosynthetically derived ethylene. The research team notes that “steam cracking of petroleum, is the largest CO2 emitting process in chemical industry”.
In this effort, they are using cyanobacteria to make biomass plus two products: ethylene, which self separates from the culture, and is the only organic compound in headspace; and guanidine, a platform chemical and potential nitrogen fertilizer, as co-product from ethylene-forming reaction.. The protein-rich biomass has potential as animal feed or feedstock for HTL.
Jianping Yu of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory prepared these slides for the DOE Project Peer Review meetings.