FTE-34806 Modelling of Biobased Production Systems


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (multiple days)28
Course coordinator(s)MSc D. Reyes Lastiri
dr. RJC van Ooteghem
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. EJ van Henten
dr. RJC van Ooteghem
MSc D. Reyes Lastiri
dr.ir. SME Derakhshani

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

- MAT-24803 Mathematics for Time-dependent Systems or an equivalent course: differentiation and integration; solving differential equations; analysis and interpretation of the behaviour;
- BCT-20306 Modelling Dynamic Systems or an equivalent course: basic knowledge about dynamic systems modelled with differential equations;
- BCT-22803 Physical Transport Phenomena Systems or an equivalent course: basic knowledge on physics, mass balances and energy balances.


Advanced biobased production systems are expected to provide society with food, fuel and biomaterials in de post-fossil fuel era. These production systems combine product flows and waste flows from plant and animal production together with novel bioprocessing technologies. Testing such novel concepts by building pilot plants is usually too expensive. The same holds for evaluation of modifications to existing production systems. Therefore, mathematical models can be a powerful tool to predict the performance and behaviour of the novel systems.

In view of the above, this course discusses how to develop mathematical models using the System Dynamics approach. This approach is often used to simulate complex models with non-linear behaviour. To learn this approach, students work with a partner on computer practical cases. The cases consist of a complex farming system divided into sub-systems.
In this course, students learn to analyse critically mathematical models available in literature, in order to reproduce and connect them to perform system-level simulations. These simulations are oriented towards answering specific research questions.
The course covers different tools for model implementation. First, models are represented in Forrester diagrams, common in System Dynamics. These diagrams are then implemented in a graphical simulator. Finally, models are coded into a programming language. 
Students are guided through common steps in the development of mathematical models, with a focus on complex biosystems: formulating research questions, gathering data and models from literature, writing and solving differential equations, sensitivity analysis, model calibration, model validation, and uncertainty analysis.

This course is the first course in the MSc Biosystems Engineering. The course includes an orientation on the study domain with a multiple-day field trip to relevant organizations, universities and industries in the Netherlands and surrounding countries. The students write a report about this field trip.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
-  understand the relevance of modelling for engineering and research;
-  interpret and translate complex textual information into mathematical models;
-  formulate quantifiable research questions;
-  divide a complex biosystem into sub-systems for model development;
-  represent graphically a mathematical model in a Forrester diagram;
-  implement a mathematical model into a graphical simulator and a programming language;
-  connect existing sub-models for system-level simulations;
-  apply model calibration, sensitivity analysis and uncertainty analysis.


- Lectures;
- Multiple day excursion. This excursion is mandatory. A replacement activity of comparable size is possible under specific circumstances defined by the course coordinators.


- the exam is a written open book exam, consisting of open questions. The mark for the exam needs to be ≥5.5. The mark for the exam will remain valid until the end of the next academic year.
- Some lectures require preparation. The preparation assignment consists of a document that has to be uploaded to Brightspace. This document can be handwritten and scanned. The mark for this preparation is good/pass/fail. The document is then used for the discussion in class, sometimes with the whole group, or in smaller groups (e.g. 4 students). The mark for the lecture preparation assignments is valid until the end of the next academic year.
- each (computer) case study also requires preparation. This preparation has to be uploaded, and brought to class. The mark for all computer exercises is a good/pass/fail. Furthermore, a short report has to be written, answering a specific research question with your developed model. The mark for the case studies is the average of these two grades (preparations+report). The mark for the case studies is valid until the end of the next academic year.
- the final mark is a 2/1/1 combination of the exam, the
preparations for lecture and the average grade for the case studies. A geometric mean is taken, which means students must do equally well on all parts.


Reader, copies from literature and lecture slides.

Compulsory for: MBEBiosystems EngineeringMSc1AF
Restricted Optional for: MBSBiobased SciencesMScA: Biomass Production and Carbon Capture1AF