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TMO receives financing

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Biomass to ethanol producer TMO Renewables says it has raised £7.6 million (€9 million) in a financing round from new and current shareholders.

This will be combined with the £4.6 million that was raised at the beginning of the year, and will be used to help the company come into commercialisation.

The company is working with plant owners and land official from Minas Gerais, a state of Brazil, which is experiencing a high rise of growth in its sugar and ethanol industry.

TMO signed an MOU with after officials from the area visited TMO’s laboratory in Surrey, UK, and are now planning to install the technology in the Brazilian mills which it says will help to increase its ethanol production. As of yet a date has not been set for the installation of the technology although it will not be the first time TMO has built overseas – it also has a partner in the US.

The technology was developed by taking out the termophilic strains of cellulose during a screening process and strains that produced ethanol were further investigated.

These strains created a different strain which is able to be grown on cellulose and other biomass-derived sugars. This strain produces large quantities of organic acids but only a little amount of ethanol.

Through further study, the TMO organism was discovered, TM242, that can produce ethanol yields similar to yeast. This yeast can grow in higher temperatures, meaning the fermenting time is shorter, lowering the cost of the enzyme process.

The technology will be implemented into Brazilian mills in a state that is already the location of more than 40 plants which are producing ethanol, sugar and electricity. Investors are planning on improving on the funding available for sugarcane producers and diversifying their production methods to make sure they are sustainable.

Speaking to Biofuels International, Robert Parker, acting CEO of TMO says:  ‘2011 has seen encouraging progress for TMO, which has an existing contract in the US to design and build waste to bioethanol plants with leading edge clean technology company Fiberight International. We have moved into emerging economies with Joint Testing Programmes with Chinese corporations COFC and CNOOC, as announced in May, and with an MOU with Minas Gerais state, in South Central Brazil, as a prelude to a formal agreement to implement TMO’s technology in regional ethanol mills.’