Dynamic modeling of syngas fermentation in a continuous stirred-tank reactor: Multi-response parameter estimation and process optimization

Elisa M. de Medeiros*, John A. Posada, Henk Noorman, Rubens Maciel Filho

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Syngas fermentation is one of the bets for the future sustainable biobased economies due to its potential as an intermediate step in the conversion of waste carbon to ethanol fuel and other chemicals. Integrated with gasification and suitable downstream processing, it may constitute an efficient and competitive route for the valorization of various waste materials, especially if systems engineering principles are employed targeting process optimization. In this study, a dynamic multi-response model is presented for syngas fermentation with acetogenic bacteria in a continuous stirred-tank reactor, accounting for gas–liquid mass transfer, substrate (CO, H2) uptake, biomass growth and death, acetic acid reassimilation, and product selectivity. The unknown parameters were estimated from literature data using the maximum likelihood principle with a multi-response nonlinear modeling framework and metaheuristic optimization, and model adequacy was verified with statistical analysis via generation of confidence intervals as well as parameter significance tests. The model was then used to study the effects of process conditions (gas composition, dilution rate, gas flow rates, and cell recycle) as well as the sensitivity of kinetic parameters, and multiobjective genetic algorithm was used to maximize ethanol productivity and CO conversion. It was observed that these two objectives were clearly conflicting when CO-rich gas was used, but increasing the content of H2 favored higher productivities while maintaining 100% CO conversion. The maximum productivity predicted with full conversion was 2 g·L−1·hr−1 with a feed gas composition of 54% CO and 46% H2 and a dilution rate of 0.06 hr−1 with roughly 90% of cell recycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2473-2487
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • dynamic model
  • ethanol
  • multiobjective optimization
  • parameter estimation
  • statistical analysis
  • syngas fermentation

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