Microbiological fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass: current state and prospects of mathematical modeling
The anaerobic fermentation process has achieved growing importance in practice in recent years. Anaerobic fermentation is especially valuable because its end product is methane, a renewable energy source. While the use of renewable energy sources has accelerated substantially in recent years, their potential has not yet been sufficiently exploited. This is especially true for biogas technology. Biogas is created in a multistage process in which different microorganisms use the energy stored in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for their metabolism. In order to produce biogas, any organic substrate that is microbiologically accessible can be used. The microbiological process in itself is extremely complex and still requires substantial research in order to be fully understood. Technical facilities for the production of biogas are thus generally scaled in a purely empirical manner. The efficiency of the process, therefore, corresponds to the optimum only in the rarest cases. An optimal production of biogas, as well as a stable plant operation requires detailed knowledge of the biochemical processes in the fermenter. The use of mathematical models can help to achieve the necessary deeper understanding of the process. This paper reviews both the history of model development and current state of the art in modeling anaerobic digestion processes.