TMO Renewables: Biofuels Digest’s 5-Minite Guide

January 29, 2013 |

Based in: UK

Business: Licensor of a cellulosic microbe that produces up to 15 percent more ethanol than traditional fermentation technology, and reduces energy inputs in the fermentation and distillation process.

Model: Licensing, including a royalty on production of additional gallons of ethanol (“the TMO gallons”).

Investors include: Jupiter Asset Management, Noble Group, RAB Capital, Presnow Limited, Diverso Management, Libra Advisors

Past milestones:

  • Development of a secure, scalable application of technology, following the scientific breakthrough of discovering the microbe.
  • Commissioning of the company’s demonstration plant in Surrey, UK, used for customer demonstrations and feedstock testing.
  • In December 2011, the company announced that it completed a £7.6M round of financing.  Taken in combination with £4.6m raised in January 2010, the proceeds will serve will serve as working capital as the company moves towards commercialisation.
  • Additionally, the company has been involved in detailed and positive discussions in Brazil. A senior delegation of ethanol plant owners and local officials from the state of Minas Gerais, in South Central Brazil, visited the Company’s laboratory and PDU in Surrey earlier this year to see TMO technology in action. Building on this visit, TMO has recently signed an MOU as a prelude to a formal agreement to implement TMO’s technology in regional ethanol mills. This approach will make it possible to significantly increase the ethanol production in Minas Gerais without adding to the present sugarcane planted area.
  • In May 2012, TMO Renewables announced they had advanced to demonstration scale on cassava stalk feedstock with major Chinese fuel and food producers. TMO is now processing an initial shipment of cassava stalk delivered from China, an inexpensive, abundant feedstock underutilized in 2G bioethanol.
  • Improved efficiencies at TMO’s 12,000 sq. ft. demonstration facility are projected to produce ethanol for less than two dollars per gallon, marking a crucial step toward commercialization.  Utilizing cassava stalk, TMO’s conversion process will yield 70 to 80 gallons of 2G ethanol per ton of feedstock.
  • In August 2012, TMO Renewables announced the signing of an MOU with the authorities of Heilongjiang, China, to secure long term large volume biomass feedstock supply for future biofuel production facilities from Heilongjiang State Farm, the largest state owned farming corporation in China. The MOU is the first step towards building the first of a future series of second generation biofuel production facilities in China. TMO will be able to assess the full potential of the HSF feedstock using its Process Demonstration Unit (PDU) in Surrey. The UK’s first cellulosic demonstration facility, the PDU is used to conduct feasibility studies on a wide range of feedstocks to determine the optimal process for each material for clients at a commercially relevant scale.

Future milestones:

  • TMO is now in the commercialization phase, with “customer, customer, customer” as the focus. Numerous collaborations with ethanol project owners and developers will need to be converted into commercial customer relationships. Look for TMO to secure its first customer this year.
  • Look also for an independent report this year confirming that with use of TMO Renewables technology, starch gallons can qualify as advanced biofuels under the terms of the Renewable Fuel Standard based on direct GHG emissions.
  • Look for increased feedstock flexibility.


TMO’s system costs $47-$60 million to implement, although payback comes within three years according to former CEO Hamish Curran. The investment will provide up to 15 Mgy in additional fuel production at a traditional 100 Mgy ethanol plant.

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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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