A superstructure-based framework for bio-separation network synthesis

Wenzhao Wu, Kirti Yenkie, Christos T. Maravelias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Modern biotechnologies enable the production of chemicals using engineered microorganisms. However, the cost of downstream recovery and purification steps is high, which means that the feasibility of bio-based chemicals production depends heavily on the synthesis of cost-effective separation networks. To this end, we develop a superstructure-based framework for bio-separation network synthesis. Based on general separation principles and insights obtained from industrial processes for specific products, we first identify four separation stages: cell treatment, product phase isolation, concentration and purification, and refinement. For each stage, we systematically implement a set of connectivity rules to develop stage-superstructures, all of which are then integrated to generate a general superstructure that accounts for all types of chemicals that can be produced using microorganisms. We further develop a superstructure reduction method to solve specific instances, based on product attributes, technology availability, case-specific considerations, and final product stream specifications. A general optimization model, including short-cut models for all technologies, is formulated. The proposed framework enables preliminary synthesis and analysis of bio-separation networks, and thus estimation of separation costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalComputers and Chemical Engineering
StatePublished - Jan 4 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


  • Global optimization
  • Mixed integer nonlinear programing
  • Process optimization
  • Renewable chemicals


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