Processes2015, 3(3), 634-663; doi:10.3390/pr3030634 - published 20 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The current methodological approach for developing sustainable biofuel processes and supply chains is flawed. Life cycle principles are often retrospectively incorporated in the design phase resulting in incremental environmental improvement rather than selection of fuel pathways that minimize environmental impacts across the life cycle. Further, designing sustainable biofuel supply chains requires joint consideration of economic, environmental, and social factors that span multiple spatial and temporal scales. However, traditional life cycle assessment (LCA) ignores economic aspects and the role of ecological goods and services in supply chains, and hence is limited in its ability for guiding decision-making among alternatives—often resulting in sub-optimal solutions. Simultaneously incorporating economic and environment objectives in the design and optimization of emerging biofuel supply chains requires a radical new paradigm. This work discusses key research opportunities and challenges in the design of emerging biofuel supply chains and provides a high-level overview of the current “state of the art” in environmental sustainability assessment of biofuel production. Additionally, a bibliometric analysis of over 20,000 biofuel research articles from 2000-to-present is performed to identify active topical areas of research in the biofuel literature, quantify the relative strength of connections between various biofuels research domains, and determine any potential research gaps.
Processes2015, 3(3), 619-633; doi:10.3390/pr3030619 - published 14 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Valuable chemical by-products can increase the economic viability of renewable transportation fuel facilities while increasing the sustainability of the chemical and associated industries. A study was performed to demonstrate that commercial quality chemical products could be produced using the non-catalytic cracking of crop oils. Using this decomposition technique generates a significant concentration of C2−C10 fatty acids which can be isolated and purified as saleable co-products along with transportation fuels. A process scheme was developed and replicated in the laboratory to demonstrate this capability. Using this scheme, an acetic acid by-product was isolated and purified then reacted with ethylene derived from renewable ethanol to generate a sample of vinyl acetate monomer. This sample was assessed by a major chemical company and found to be of acceptable quality for commercial production of polyvinyl acetate and other products.
Processes2015, 3(3), 607-618; doi:10.3390/pr3030607 - published 22 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The advent of high throughput -omics has made the accumulation of comprehensive data sets possible, consisting of changes in genes, transcripts, proteins and metabolites. Systems biology-inspired computational methods for translating metabolomics data into fluxomics provide a direct functional, dynamic readout of metabolic networks. When combined with appropriate experimental design, these methods deliver insightful knowledge about cellular function under diverse conditions. The use of computational models accounting for detailed kinetics and regulatory mechanisms allow us to unravel the control and regulatory properties of the fluxome under steady and time-dependent behaviors. This approach extends the analysis of complex systems from description to prediction, including control of complex dynamic behavior ranging from biological rhythms to catastrophic lethal arrhythmias. The powerful quantitative metabolomics-fluxomics approach will help our ability to engineer unicellular and multicellular organisms evolve from trial-and-error to a more predictable process, and from cells to organ and organisms.
Processes2015, 3(3), 568-606; doi:10.3390/pr3030568 - published 16 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This contribution concerns the development of generic methods and tools for robust optimal control of high-pressure liquid chromatographic separation processes. The proposed methodology exploits a deterministic robust formulation, that employs a linearization of the uncertainty set, based on Lyapunov differential equations to generate optimal elution trajectories in the presence of uncertainty. Computational tractability is obtained by casting the robust counterpart problem in the framework of bilevel optimal control where the upper level concerns forward simulation of the Lyapunov differential equation, and the nominal open-loop optimal control problem augmented with the robustified target component purity inequality constraint margin is considered in the lower level. The lower-level open-loop optimal control problem, constrained by spatially discretized partial differential equations, is transcribed into a finite dimensional nonlinear program using direct collocation, which is then solved by a primal-dual interior point method. The advantages of the robustification strategy are highlighted through the solution of a challenging ternary complex mixture separation problem for a hydrophobic interaction chromatography system. The study shows that penalizing the changes in the zero-order hold control gives optimal solutions with low sensitivity to uncertainty. A key result is that the robustified general elution trajectories outperformed the conventional linear trajectories both in terms of recovery yield and robustness.
Processes2015, 3(3), 541-567; doi:10.3390/pr3030541 - published 14 July 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A technique for optimizing large-scale differential-algebraic process models under uncertainty using a parallel embedded model approach is developed in this article. A combined multi-period multiple-shooting discretization scheme is proposed, which creates a significant number of independent numerical integration tasks for each shooting interval over all scenario/period realizations. Each independent integration task is able to be solved in parallel as part of the function evaluations within a gradient-based non-linear programming solver. The focus of this paper is on demonstrating potential computation performance improvement when the embedded differential-algebraic equation model solution of the multi-period discretization is implemented in parallel. We assess our parallel dynamic optimization approach on two case studies; the first is a benchmark literature problem, while the second is a large-scale air separation problem that considers a robust set-point transition under parametric uncertainty. Results indicate that focusing on the speed-up of the embedded model evaluation can significantly decrease the overall computation time; however, as the multi-period formulation grows with increased realizations, the computational burden quickly shifts to the internal computation performed within the non-linear programming algorithm. This highlights the need for further decomposition, structure exploitation and parallelization within the non-linear programming algorithm and is the subject for further investigation.