NREL Advancements in Methane Conversion Lead to Cleaner Air, Useful Products

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Researchers at NREL leveraged the recent on-site development of gas fermentation capabilities and novel genetic tools to directly convert methane to lactic acid using an engineered methanotrophic bacterium. The results provide proof-of-concept data for a gas-to-liquids bioprocess that concurrently produces fuels and chemicals from methane. NREL researchers developed genetic tools to express heterologous genes in methanotrophic organisms, which have historically been difficult to genetically engineer. Using these tools, researchers demonstrated microbial conversion of methane to lactate, a high-volume biochemical precursor predominantly utilized for the production of bioplastics. Methane biocatalysis offers a means to concurrently liquefy and upgrade natural gas and renewable biogas, enabling their utilization in conventional transportation and industrial manufacturing infrastructure. Producing chemicals and fuels from methane expands the suite of products currently generated from biorefineries, municipalities, and agricultural operations, with the potential to increase revenue and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5100-66535


  • GHG
  • greenhouse gas
  • methane
  • methanotrophic


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