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Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2013 Dec;33(4):419-47. doi: 10.3109/07388551.2012.726208. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Mathematical models of ABE fermentation: review and analysis.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati , Guwahati , India.


Among different liquid biofuels that have emerged in the recent past, biobutanol produced via fermentation processes is of special interest due to very similar properties to that of gasoline. For an effective design, scale-up, and optimization of the acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation process, it is necessary to have insight into the micro- and macro-mechanisms of the process. The mathematical models for ABE fermentation are efficient tools for this purpose, which have evolved from simple stoichiometric fermentation equations in the 1980s to the recent sophisticated and elaborate kinetic models based on metabolic pathways. In this article, we have reviewed the literature published in the area of mathematical modeling of the ABE fermentation. We have tried to present an analysis of these models in terms of their potency in describing the overall physiology of the process, design features, mode of operation along with comparison and validation with experimental results. In addition, we have also highlighted important facets of these models such as metabolic pathways, basic kinetics of different metabolites, biomass growth, inhibition modeling and other additional features such as cell retention and immobilized cultures. Our review also covers the mathematical modeling of the downstream processing of ABE fermentation, i.e. recovery and purification of solvents through flash distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, and pervaporation. We believe that this review will be a useful source of information and analysis on mathematical models for ABE fermentation for both the appropriate scientific and engineering communities.

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