TMO’s search for a novel thermophile began with sugar metabolism…

The first step was to develop a list of desirable characteristics our organism should possess.  Top of the list was the ability to metabolise a wide range of sugars which would allow the organism to be used on a variety of cellulosic feedstocks.

Thousands of candidate thermophilic strains went through an extensive  screening process where their ability to metabolise simple and complex sugars was assessed – strains that produced even small amounts of bioethanol were investigated further.

This delivered a Geobacillus thermoglucosidasius strain capable of growing on cellulose, xylan and other  biomass-derived sugars.  This wild type strain produced large quantities of organic acids but only small amounts of bioethanol.

In parallel with the screening process, we developed the TMO Molecular Toolkit which allowed us to engineer our strain at the metabolic level to produce increased amounts of ethanol.

It’s application  through a series of strains eventually resulted in the TMO Organism, TM242, which could produce bioethanol at yields comparable to yeast (i.e. greater than 80% of the theoretical yield).

TM242 has a number of properties that benefit the TMO Process…

…such as its ability to grow at higher temperatures resulting in shorter fermentation times and to ferment oligomeric C5/C6 sugars leading to reduced loading (and cost) of enzymes.

TMO has filed international patent applications relating to TM242, various intermediate strains and the Molecular Toolkit used to generate them.