Synergistic Process Synthesis and Design Framework for Integrated Biorefineries

Nikolaus I. Vollmer, Resul Al, Krist V. Gernaey, Gürkan Sin

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A key approach in expediting the transition towards a bio-based economy is the conceptual design and implementation of integrated second-generation biorefineries (iSGB) [1]. Despite tremendous efforts in research as well as past economic and political initiatives, the number of active iSGBs worldwide is dramatically low, mainly due to their deficient economic robustness [2]. A conceptual design approach for these iSGBs is Superstructure Optimization (SSO), which yields an optimal candidate process topology (CPT), but which is inherently limited by the initial search space and the fidelity of the unit operation models [3,4]. This contrasts highly with the complexity of fermentation processes and disregards recent advances in synthetic biology for the optimization of the cell factories employed in these processes [2]. From a biotechnological perspective, this hurdle is surmounted by a design approach, in which the products are specified a priori and subsequently the cell factory and the process are tailored towards the product and finally the feedstock is specified, thus “having the end in mind” [5,6]. Furthermore, by following a simulation-based optimization (SBO) approach, complex models including physiological and operational specifications of cell factories can be employed in the search for an optimal process design. Despite being computationally demanding, the second benefit from it is the possibility to include uncertainties into the process design with models of complex biological systems [7].

In this work, we therefore propose a novel synergistic framework for the synthesis and design of iSGBs: based on a hybrid approach integrating surrogate-based superstructure optimization (SSO) with simulation-based design optimization (SBO), it harnesses both the power of the SSO for process synthesis and the potential of SBO for detailed design optimization. The framework itself capitalizes thorough knowledge regarding biotechnology and synthetic biology in order to guide decisions for both SSO and SBO, which results in a consolidated framework and an expedited evaluation process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2020 AIChE Annual Meeting - Virtual event
Duration: 16 Nov 202020 Nov 2020


Conference2020 AIChE Annual Meeting
LocationVirtual event


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