Publication Details

Nelson, M. Ian. (2017). A Mathematical Model for End-Product Toxicity. Chemical Product and Process Modeling, Online First 1-16.


Alcohol based biofuels, such as bio-butanol, have considerable potential to reduce the demand for petrochemical fuels. However, one of the main obstacles to the commercial development of biological based production processes of biofuels is end-product toxicity to the biocatalyst. We investigate the effect of end-product toxicity upon the steady-state production of a biofuel produced through the growth of microorganisms in a continuous flow bioreactor. The novelty of the model formulation is that the product is assumed to be toxic to the biomass. The increase in the per-capita decay rate due to the presence of the product is assumed to be proportional to the the concentration of the product. The steady-state solutions for the model are obtained, and their stability determined as a function of the residence time. These solutions are used to investigate how the maximum yield and the reactor productivity depend upon system parameters. Unlike systems which do not exhibit toxicity there is a value of the feed concentration which maximises the product yield. The maximum reactor productivity is shown to be a sharply decreasing function of both the feed concentration and the toxicity parameter. In conclusion, alternative reactor configurations are required to reduce the effects of highly toxic products.



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