Not many companies ever get to sign a US $500M contract – fewer still as their first. But in 2010, British company TMO Renewables agreed to build 15 factories across the US to produce bioethanol from household waste under an exclusive contract with a leading green technology company based in the US.
|30 years||Time from publication of original discovery to founding TMO|
|5 years||Time from start up founding to signing US $500M contract|
|400,000 litres||Annual capacity of TMO’s £8M Process Demonstration Unit (PDU)|
In the 1970s it was noted that bacteria that thrive in high temperatures produced a small amount of ethanol. Upscaling this process and developing a microbiology ‘toolkit’ to get the best from a microbe found naturally in compost, from 2005 the people behind TMO have grown the company from a start-up of only five people to a major industry force.
Using a number of BBSRC-funded initiatives and programmes, from one-to-one PhD studentships to forging academic and industry collaborations, TMO is in many ways a model of how a novel idea can become a game-changing reality.
In 2012, TMO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to secure long-term large volume biomass feedstock supply for future biofuel production facilities from the Heilongjang State Farm, China, the largest state owned farming corporation in the country.