Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

AWMC Seminar Program: Modelling of bio-based processes: moving from benchmarking tools to industrial applications

Modelling of bio-based processes: moving from benchmarking tools to industrial applications

Abstract: Mathematical models have been widely accepted in wastewater treatment, and have been very important in the work of the IWA Task Group on Benchmarking of Control Strategies of Wastewater Treatment Plants. The work and the experience of this Task Group, a result of an international research and development effort that spanned a period of 15 years, have been summarized in a Scientific and Technical Report in 2014 [1]. The main results of this work have been widely used within the research community but also in industry (e.g. consulting), and can be summarized as follows: (1) A set of validated mathematical models of unit processes; (2) A set of process modelling tools; (3) A set of standardized plant models for a number of well-defined plant lay-outs; (4) General increased awareness about the importance of adopting plant-wide modelling instead of focusing on unit process models.

However, it is now time to move ahead, and to transform the experiences from the benchmarking exercise to practical applications. As any mathematical model or model platform, the validated mathematical models made by the Task Group have limitations. Some of these limitations have been addressed in recent years, thereby expanding the scope of these models significantly. Physicochemical models have for example been added to the biological models, and as a result it is now possible to simulate advanced scenarios of nutrient and energy recovery in a wastewater treatment plant. This will be illustrated with a case study on an anaerobic digester treating industrial wastewater, as well as with plant-wide modelling examples.

The benchmarking exercise by the Task Group has a potential impact on other processes as well. Fermentation processes, resource recovery operations, pharmaceutical production processes, can all benefit from systems thinking, and from knowledge sharing obtained by distributing validated process or unit operation models. The latter has been an essential element in the work of the IWA Task Group, and opens up perspectives to use such benchmarking tools in an educational context as well.


Bio: Krist V. Gernaey (Professor and Head, Dept. of chemical and biochemical Engg., DTU) MSc (1993) and PhD (1997) from Ghent University (Belgium). PhD research focused on monitoring of wastewater systems. Postdoc positions at Ghent University, École Polytechnique de Montreal, DTU Chemical Engineering and Lund University from 1998 until 2005, mainly performing research on modelling, simulation and control of wastewater sytems. Associate professor at DTU Chemical Engineering since 2005. Professor in industrial fermentation technology ("The Novozymes professor") since 2013. Head of the Process and Systems Engineering Center (PROSYS) ( since 2014. CEO of Bioscavenge ApS since 2017. Currently supervising 12 PhD students and 8 postdocs / senior researchers. Current research with focus on large-scale fermentation, mathematical modelling, investigation of mass transfer issues across scales, application and development of computer-aided tools for elucidation of (bio)process kinetics, Process Analytical Technology (PAT), continuous production, process simulation.

Event Details
Date & Time: 
Friday, 05 October 2018
9am - 10am
Venue: AIBN Building 75, Level 1 Seminar Room

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