When Oxy asked us to make ethylene from CO2 we looked into nature and found the answer in Bananas! Turns out our bananas produce ethylene in the ripening process, so we took the gene for the ethylene forming enzyme from banana and engineered it into our host microorganism that can use CO2 as a feedstock. Now we have an engineered microorganism that can turn CO2 and water into bioethylene. We have completed the discovery phase of this project and are currently performing scale up with the next step being to build a demonstration pilot plant next to Oxy’s emission source.
Our early techno-economic assessment promises cost-parity compared to the current cracking process and the life-cycle assessment shows we can utilize 1.7 million tons of CO2 (from the flue gas of a co-gen power plant) to produce 1 billion pounds of bioethylene per year.
“This technology could provide an opportunity to offer a new, non-hydrocarbon-sourced ethylene product to the market, reducing carbon emissions, and in the future benefit our affiliate, OxyChem, which is a large producer and consumer of ethylene in its chlorovinyls business,” said Dr. Robert Zeller, Vice President of Technology for OLCV.