The objective of this project is to provide a web-based, user driven, flexible and robust biorefinery modelling system for the Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) network. The system will support non-expert users to assess future R&D, facilitate process design and compare the viability of multiple biorefinery configurations. For example, the model may be used to assess the optimum pre-treatment method for the production of butanol from wheat straw.
The proof of concept (PoC) model focuses on the production of butanol, succinic acid and purified sugars from three different feedstocks (wheat straw, sugar beet and forestry residues) by means of two different pre-treatment methods (steam explosion and acid hydrolysis). Each process step is modelled as a separate ‘module’ connected to a process chain using inbuilt logic rules. Each module fully describes the process in terms of inputs, outputs and cost. The diagram below illustrates the modular connectivity and how it could be expanded after PoC. Variables include process configuration and scale.
The structure gives the flexibility to introduce new data, processes or modules in the future. An original web-based user interface will support accessibility, allowing selection of multiple biorefinery configurations or process modules from the options. The system’s key process and economic data outputs for user’s chosen biorefinery configuration will be shaped and validated by industrial partners: ReBio, Croda and BioSyntha.
The web-based user interface will be released for beta-testing to the industrial partners during the project and to the wider network at the project end (Apr 2016).
*ABE - acetone, butanol, ethanol