Who are TMO Renewables?

TMO stands for ‘thermophilic (literally heat-loving) micro organism’ – the bacterial ethanologen at the core of our revolutionary process. This organism can exist at high temperatures and can digest a wide range of feedstocks very quickly. Our process exploits these talents to produce ethanol from any cellulose-based material. And it does so in a highly-economical way that is more-or-less carbon neutral.

What’s more, by utilising more of the feedstock crop, it promotes a more efficient use of agricultural land. And eventually, when alternative feedstocks come on stream (see below), it will progressively compete less for land with agriculture.

Two-stage development

This significant breakthough has both short and longer-term implications for the bio-fuel production on the global scale. Hence its impact can be broken down into two distinct stages:

Stage 1

The immediate application of our new technology is to ‘bolt it on’ to an existing corn ethanol plant – thus instantly and dramatically increasing the producer’s margin.

How? By delivering massive savings in energy – for our process requires a wet feedstock, which eliminates at a stroke the cost of drying the DDGs that are the co-product of the conventional corn ethanol process and in themselves a valuable source of ethanol.

In a recent case study in Iowa, we proved that we could deliver lower energy consumption, lower costs and higher output, thus producing a 70% improvement in margin – and this after the payment of a royalty to TMO.

The corn ethanol industry has suffered from some bad press in recent times. Using ethanol in vehicles reduces CO2 emissions, because CO2 was absorbed by the plant used as a raw material as it grew. Yet environmentalists have attacked corn-based ethanol as a waste of money, energy and food.

However, the ethanol produced by our heat-loving organism, which dramatically reduces the amount of energy required by a conventional process, offers a climate-friendly substitute for petrol.

Stage 2

Our TM 242 micro-organism, which is 1/45 the thickness of a human hair, can be applied to a whole range of different cellulosic feedstocks – most notably, perhaps, to domestic waste (paper, food) and to leftovers from agriculture and industry. These could include the straw from cereal crops, the burning of which is now largely prohibited in Europe.

Historical Background    

TMO was founded in 2002 on the back of research by a young scientist in the early 1970s – Tony (now Professor) Atkinson. He noticed that a certain type of bacterium that grows on the sugars derived from biomass will produce ethanol.

He went on to identify bacteria ‘in the wild’ that had an appetite for different kinds of biomass – then to encourage them to make ethanol. The means of encouraging this behaviour in bacteria – our toolkit – lies at the heart of TMO’s technology and intellectual property.


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