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Engineering the Future of Biofuel: UC Santa Cruz iGEM 2015

Raised toward our $12,500 Goal
96 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on August 21, at 11:59 AM PDT
Project Owners

Engineering the Future of Biofuel: UC Santa Cruz iGEM 2015

The Team

We are the UC Santa Cruz iGEM team! We are a team of 24 bioengineers, biochemists, and MCD biologists and overall a group of passionate undergraduates involved in an exciting international synthetic biology competition. The iGEM program provides students the opportunity to experience a real laboratory environment as well as design their own experiments. The program lasts the 10 weeks of summer session and culminates in the iGEM Jamboree held in Boston from September 24-28.

Our project focuses on engineering a micro-organism to improve biofuel production. Continued usage of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in increased amounts of pollution. Our biofuel will rely on cellulose from food waste, and can substitute in directly for current gasoline. We will create a carbon neutral cycle and stop adding to this accumulation of greenhouse gases.

The Science

Haloferax Volcanii is a robust organism with a high tolerance for extreme salt environments that can withstand the fermentation and deconstruction processes. Using H.Volcanii is beneficial to the future of biofuel production since it will not die post production like most other organisms, it is easier to work with pre-processing, and thus creates a sustainable and carbon neutral process. Most biofuel companies spend tons of money and effort on working with more difficult organisms like E.Coli and Clostridium. We hope to improve the efficiency of this process and create a more sustainable method of bio-butanol production.

We will accomplish this with three teams: Fermentation, glucose to butanol; Breakdown, cellulose to glucose; and Field, looking for new organisms to digest cellulose. Fermenting cellulose to biofuel is very similar to brewing and fermenting beer, however instead of barley, our primary source will be paper and plant waste such as almond husks, apple cores, and paper towels.

Our end product will be biofuel, which will still emit CO2 but won't add new carbon into the climate, since the fuel's carbon comes from plants instead of ancient fossil fuels. Our target biofuels provide comparable amounts of energy to gasoline, can be used in current infrastructure and burns substantially cleaner.


The Budget

We are working on our project every day for the next fourteen weeks. Our project results will be presented at an international convention in Boston, The International Genetically Engineered Machine Jamboree.  Alongside us will be 250 other institutions from across the globe with their own projects. Individual team members will have the opportunity to network and experience the significance of contributing to the bioengineering community.

The money we raise will go towards laboratory equipment as well as the transportation costs of getting our team to the Jamboree. The inefficiency of biofuel production has circumscribed us to an unhealthy dependency of fossil fuels. We want the presentation of our work to spark an urgent push in biofuel research. You can help us make that happen. 

Here is the budget breakdown for 6 students to go. We are looking to send as much of our team as possible, since all 24 of our members are diligently working to make our goals happen.

$4,200 (Conference Registration Fee)

$3,000 (Hotels Fee)

$2,300 (Traveling Costs)

$3,000 (Research Materials)

Make a gift today and allow us to represent UC Santa Cruz at the 2015 iGEM Jamboree.

To learn more, please visit our website at :


Our way
of Thanking You


Thank You E-mail

Thank you for helping our team! You will receive a thank you email from the UC Santa Cruz iGEM Captains.

18 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015


Handwritten Thank You Letter

Thank you for your donation. You will receive a handwritten thank you letter from a team member!

16 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015


Team Photo&Handwritten Letter

You will receive a team photo with everyone's signatures. Additionally you will receive a handwritten thank you letter.

27 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015


Meeting with Dr. David Bernick

Thank you for your generous donation! You can set up a meeting with Dr. Bernick to discuss his research, his experience and getting involved in future years. Also, your business logo will be included in our websites acknowledgement page and in our presentation at the Jamboree.

4 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015


Tour of the iGEM UCSC Lab

Your donation has funded a student's travel and lodging at the iGEM Jamboree! You will receive a tour of the lab that iGEM worked in all summer, along with meeting Dr. Bernick and team members.

3 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015


Trip to the Salt Flats

Your donation has covered a student's $700 registration for the Jamboree, plus part of the travel costs. You have provided them the experience of a lifetime! Take a trip with the team and Dr. Bernick to the salt flats. The salt flats are one of the most unique natural landscapes. You will be surrounded by beautiful wildlife and learn more about the organisms that live there. Trip costs not included.

1 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: September 2015