This emission is important to the researchers and other people performing plant research as ethylene is well known as a plant hormone (and it is effective at the parts-per-billion level or less), so if you are sprouting seeds on a nylon membrane (as is commonly done) and the membrane is outgassing ethylene, then you potentially have a problem.
I'm stuck on trying to identify the source of the ethylene in the nylon however. Nylon, whether through ring-opening polymerization (as in nylon 6) or as copolymerized (as in nylon 6,6) is not made from ethylene, and the extrusion/pelletization of the nylon should heat the material enough to degas any ethylene that is there for whatever reason. The exact nature of the nylon is unknown - it is only identified as "Whatman, Nytran N, 0,45 µm". The Whatman webpage mentions a couple of items that deepen the mystery: the nylon has a positive charge, and that the membrane is cast. Given all this, I see three possible sources of the mysterious ethylene:
- Does the process of charging the nylon introduce the ethylene?
- Do the solvents used in the casting process contain any ethylene?
- Lastly, I wonder if the source of the ethylene is something as simple as the membranes being slipped into a polyethylene bag as a primary package when they are shipped. The membrane could absorb ethylene outgassing from the bag.