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Biosynthetically Produced Pinene for Jet Fuel or Chemical Applications





A Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) research team has constructed a metabolic pathway to produce the monoterpene pinene, an immediate chemical precursor to a potential jet fuel. Pinene is typically derived from turpentine, a byproduct of pine resin distillation. Thus, the JBEI technology could open the door to more economical and sustainable production of a vital transportation fuel.

The researchers modified host cells, rerouting the isoprenoid pathway to produce geranyl pyrophosphate and then pinene, using selected synthases. Researchers confirmed that their technology is capable of producing pinene from either xylan or cellobiose.

Beyond the application for pinene, the technology is a new platform for production of other monoterpenes such as geraniol acetate, a chemical used in the fragrance industry, and currently prepared semi-synthetically.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Proven principle with switchgrass feedstock. Current production levels reach 4 mg/l pinene. Testing additional pinene synthases in concert with this technology may increase production levels. 

STATUS:  Patent pending.  Available for licensing or collaborative research.


The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI, is a scientific partnership led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and including the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. JBEI’s primary scientific mission is to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels.


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