Team:ULV-LC-CV/Human Practices iGEM Main Page


♦GeoGreen ♦

GeoGreen is a biofuel production facility located in Vernon, California. Their goal is to produce biodiesel from the fatty acids found in various agricultural and waste oils including vegetable oils from local businesses. The various oils are received the form of triglycerides and need to be treated to separate the fatty acids from their glycerol backbone. These fatty acids undergo transesterification to make fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) which can then be used as biodiesel. A couple of our members met with GeoGreen’s Chief Operating Officer, Eric Lauzon, who has 20 years of experience in engineering within the Biotech industry. Together we discussed the entire process of biodiesel production at GeoGreen and the brainstormed project ideas that would be most beneficial on the industrial scale. We observed that the transesterification process is one of the most expensive steps in biodiesel production. Our lab group posed the question, would an intracellular transesterification process be a cheaper way of producing biodiesel? If production of fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel) takes place within the cell, the use of large quantities of chemicals and machinery for transesterification are no longer needed. Instead, the products will just need to go through purification steps, making the entire process a lot more cost and energy efficient. When taking our idea to Eric, he gave us some comments and concerns, but overall ended by saying that if we were able to successfully do this, we would be potentially looking at a multi-million dollar idea. A cheaper and smaller carbon footprint production of biodiesel from algal intracellular transesterification will hopefully lead to more and more people using biofuels at our gas pumps.