FTE-34806 Modelling of Biobased Production Systems


Studiepunten 6.00

Excursion (multiple days)28
Course coordinator(s)dr. RJC van Ooteghem
MSc D. Reyes Lastiri
Lecturer(s)MSc D. Reyes Lastiri
dr. RJC van Ooteghem
dr.ir. SME Derakhshani
Examiner(s)dr. RJC van Ooteghem

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

- MAT24803 Mathematics for Time-dependent Systems or an equivalent course: differentiation and integration; solving differential equations; analysis and interpretation of dynamic behaviour;
- BCT20306 Modelling Dynamic Systems or an equivalent course: basic knowledge about dynamic systems modelled with differential equations;
- BCT22803 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 the 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:
- identify the field of application of Biosystems Engineering
- recognize the relevance of mathematical modelling for engineering and research
- identify and classify variables in the mathematical notation of System Dynamics
- interpret and translate complex descriptions of biological systems into mathematical models
- formulate scientific research questions
- represent graphically a mathematical model in a Forrester diagram
- apply model calibration, sensitivity analysis, and uncertainty analysis
- practice writing a technical report
- divide a complex biosystem into sub-systems for model development
- connect existing sub-models for system-level simulations
- assess and verify the accuracy of model simulations against literature data


- lectures;
- computer practical sessions;
- multiple day excursion. This excursion is mandatory for MBE students. A replacement activity of comparable size is possible under specific circumstances defined by the course coordinators.


- closed book exam consisting of open questions. The mark for the exam needs to be >=5.50. The mark for the exam will remain valid until the end of the next academic year.
- case report. Written report consisting of the steps for the development of the mathematical model of a complex farming system and the analysis of the simulation results. The mark for the report needs to be >=5.50. The mark for the report will remain valid until the end of the next academic year.
- preparation assignments. The handwritten answers to the assignments have to be uploaded to Brightspace. The mark for this preparation assignment is good/pass/fail. The assignments are used for discussion in class, sometimes with the whole group, or in smaller groups (e.g. 4 students). The mark for the preparation assignments is valid until the end of the next academic year.
- the final mark is a 2/2/1 combination of the exam, the case report, and the preparation assignments. A geometric mean is taken, which means students must do equally well on all parts.


Reader, links to literature and lecture slides.

Verplicht voor: MBEBiosystems EngineeringMSc1AF
Keuze voor: MBSBiobased SciencesMScA: Spec. A - Biomass Production and Carbon Capture1AF