NREL scientist Jianping Yu bioethylene 600

Researchers probe microbes for a future polymer building block

Golden, Colorado – Microbes commonly found in moist, natural environments could eventually be a source of ethylene, the building block for polyethylenes and many other polymers including olefinic elastomers.

Researchers at the US department of energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory are tweaking cyanobacteria to produce ethylene through photosynthesis. If they can get the yields up, the process might be an alternative to using oil and gas for making the raw material of polymers.

The sustainable process could also have a role in cutting atmospheric levels of carbon…

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