Continuous Biochemical Processing: Investigating Novel Strategies to Produce Sustainable Fuels and Pharmaceuticals
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Biochemical processing methods have been targeted as one of the potential renewable strategies for producing commodities currently dominated by the petrochemical industry. To design biochemical systems with the ability to compete with petrochemical facilities, inroads are needed to transition from traditional batch methods to continuous methods. Recent advancements in the areas of process systems and biochemical engineering have provided the tools necessary to study and design these continuous biochemical systems to maximize productivity and substrate utilization while reducing capital and operating costs. The first goal of this thesis is to propose a novel strategy for the continuous biochemical production of pharmaceuticals. The structural complexity of most pharmaceutical compounds makes chemical synthesis a difficult option, facilitating the need for their biological production. To this end, a continuous, multi-feed bioreactor system composed of multiple independently controlled feeds for substrate(s) and media is proposed to freely manipulate the bioreactor dilution rate and substrate concentrations. The optimal feed flow rates are determined through the solution to an optimal control problem where the kinetic models describing the time-variant system states are used as constraints. This new bioreactor paradigm is exemplified through the batch and continuous cultivation of β-carotene, a representative product of the mevalonate pathway, using Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain mutant SM14. The second goal of this thesis is to design continuous, biochemical processes capable of economically producing alternative liquid fuels. The large-scale, continuous production of ethanol via consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is examined. Optimal process topologies for the CBP technology selected from a superstructure considering multiple biomass feeds, chosen from those available across the United States, and multiple prospective pretreatment technologies. Similarly, the production of butanol via acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation is explored using process intensification to improve process productivity and profitability. To overcome the inhibitory nature of the butanol product, the multi-feed bioreactor paradigm developed for pharmaceutical production is utilized with in situ gas stripping to simultaneously provide dilution effects and selectively remove the volatile ABE components. Optimal control and process synthesis techniques are utilized to determine the benefits of gas stripping and design a butanol production process guaranteed to be profitable.
SubjectProcess Systems Engineering
Raftery, Jonathan Patrick (2017). Continuous Biochemical Processing: Investigating Novel Strategies to Produce Sustainable Fuels and Pharmaceuticals. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from