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Traditionally, the production of fermentation products such as Bioethanol has relied on feedstocks that are rich in either sugars (cane or beet) or starch which is easily broken down into sugars (wheat, corn or rice). Because of the alternative uses of these products, their prices fluctuate and are higher than desirable for the production of fuels and commodity chemicals.
The optimal feedstock for bioconversions would be waste biomass (e.g. straw, wood chips and paper pulp effluent) and crops specially grown for their high biomass production rate (kenaf, miscanthus and short rotation woody crops). Such sources can be described as “cellulosic biomass” for their high cellulose and hemicellulose content.
Waste biomass is in plentiful supply; for most common food crops the amount of waste residue is between 100% and 150% of the edible yield. The total global supply of biomass meanwhile – and consequently of potential feedstock – is many times in excess of all current energy needs.
McKinsey & Co. estimates that with the help of industrial biotechnology, and in particular microbial enzymes, biomass waste can supply the raw material for 40% of bulk chemical production. They project that "biomass is poised to provide a broad set of new low-cost building blocks for next-generation fuels and polymers."
TMO supplies the essential link in the conversion chain having developed
the only fermentation system capable of utilising all sugar contained in