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A Perspective on Challenges and Prospects for Applying Process Systems Engineering Tools to Fermentation-Based Biorefineries

Darkwah, Kwabena, Knutson, Barbara L., Seay, Jeffrey R.
ACS sustainable chemistry & engineering 2018 v.6 no.3 pp. 2829-2844
biorefining, case studies, mathematical models, profitability, systems engineering
Unlike traditional chemical and petrochemical processes, Process Systems Engineering (PSE) tools and methods have not been routinely applied for the design, analysis, and optimization of fermentation-based biorefineries. This has greatly limited the ability to analyze these biomass-based processes, thus also limiting the potential profitability of biorefinery processes. This Perspective elucidates the challenges currently hindering the application of traditional PSE tools and methods to fermentation-based biorefineries. The current state of process simulators and mathematical models, the backbone of PSE, as applied to fermentation-based processes are addressed. Further, this contribution includes a proposed framework that can be applied to fermentation-based processes using existing process simulators with an illustrative case study to highlight how imperative PSE tools and methods are to the advancement of biorefineries. Finally, the future needs and prospects for using traditional PSE tools and methods for the design, analysis, and optimization of fermentation-based biorefineries to provide sustainable alternatives to existing processes and fossil-based products are discussed.