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LPG - Propane Becomes a Renewable Energy Source

Science has now found a way to make propane renewable. In one ground breaking step, LPG-propane goes from being a traditional fossil fuel to a new form of propane renewable energy.

What do you get when you mix sugar with some very smart bacteria? 


Is LPG Gas Renewable

LPG gas is renewable. Renewable LPG gas is a relatively new development. The process to make renewable propane from bacteria and sugar was published in 2014.

The Process to Make Propane Renewable

Propane from E coliScientists have developed a new biosynthetic process that indirectly converts sunlight to make propane renwable. To make propane renwable, they created a genetically engineered version of the common E. coli bacteria to do it. 

The bacteria consume sugar and are tricked, through genetic modification and the help of a couple of enzymes, into making propane instead of their normal cellular material.

The propane produced is chemically identical to regular propane. 

This renewable propane can be used exactly like the traditionally derived fossil fuel version. 

This means it is suitable for everything from autogas to home gas appliances.

Renewable fuels made with microbes are typically liquids.

This poses a couple of challenges.  

First, the liquid may poison the microbes that produce it. 

Second, the separation and purification of the fuel from the microbial solution can be complex and costly. 

All of this is avoided with this new process, as the bacteria produce instantly usable gaseous renewable propane.

This feat was achieved by a group of British and Finnish scientists led by researcher Patrik Jones. 

The full results of their work were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Why They Decided to Work Toward the Synthesis of to Make LPG- Propane Renewable

  • There is an existing global market for LPG (propane)

  • LPG uses existing infrastructure

  • Propane is easier and less expensive to liquefy than other gaseous fuels, such as methane or hydrogen.

  • Unlike biosynthetic liquid fuels, the propane produced doesn’t require purification

  • Minimal energy is required to separate the propane from the natural process

Commercialisation Plan

LPG in gas bottlesThe work is only in the very early stages. 

There is still much work to be done before this biosynthetic LPG becomes commercially feasible. 

“At the moment, we don’t have a full grasp of exactly how the fuel molecules are made, so we are now trying to find out exactly how this process unfolds,” Jones said.

“I hope that over the next 5 to 10 years we will be able to achieve commercially viable processes that will sustainably fuel our energy demands.”

Currently, the process only produces a small fraction of what would be required for commercialisation. 

The study acknowledges that “Given the availability and low cost of fossil fuels, a major challenge for all novel renewable fuel production concepts is to achieve economically sustainable well-to-wheel systems” .

The team estimates that it will be about 10 years before the process goes into commercial production.

The Future is Bright

The team will not be satisfied with the commercialisation of this process. 

They said that their main goal is to make propane renewable with photosynthetic bacteria. 

This means that in the future we could be directly converting solar energy into gaseous fuel.




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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.