Dynamic modeling of diafiltration system for a biorefinery application


  • Markku Ohenoja
  • Pekka Uusitalo
  • Hanna Valkama
  • Buddhika Rathnayake
  • Riitta L. Keiski
  • Mika Ruusunen




Process modeling, Membrane separation, Sensitivity analysis


Application of membrane technologies in biorefinery processes has been studied for some time. The heterogenous nature of biorefinery steams, however, results in unideal performance of membrane systems and considerable fouling of membranes, which is decreasing the efficiency of separation. As a part of BioSPRINT project, this study focuses on application of separating monomeric sugars from the hemicelluloses fraction of lignocellulosic biomass, where pressure-driven nanofiltration with several diafiltration stages has been proposed for the separation task. Diafiltration is required to overcome the decreased separation efficiency when the retentate concentrations and viscosity increases. A lumped parameter dynamical model of the diafiltration plant is applied. The key model parameters are identified from experimental data from a laboratory membrane unit to reflect the considered biorefinery process. The model is then simulated to study the sensitivity of the uncertain model parameters (related to membrane fouling, solute concentrations, viscosity, and mass transfer coefficients) to the diafiltration plant performance (product purity, operation time). The model is implemented in the MATLABĀ®/Simulink environment. The simulation results are expected to identify potential sources of scale-up challenges in biorefinery-related membrane applications. The developed dynamic model also allows to investigate different operational strategies of diafiltration plants in the future.