Section: Application Domains
Process engineering tools for the understanding of complex biosystems
The study of complex biological systems, such as bioprocesses used for the treatment of waste-water or systems like soils, are complex systems involving living entities. The understanding of the interactions of these ecosystems with their environments necessitates to model them in such a way their main characteristics are captured. For these systems, many accurate models have been developed for many years and for very different levels of description. For instance, some models of soils describe very accurately the behavior of the main variables at the level of the aggregate (order of mm) as well as the behavior of different important variables at the level of a cultured field or even at the level of a large watershed. The same diversity of models exists with respect to bioprocesses: one may either study the behavior of an ecosystem at the individual level or at the level of a large waste-water treatment plant. Within the framework of this project, we try to use the tools available in the field of chemical engineering in order to design simple models of such complex systems. In particular, the notions of perfect unitary processes (Chemostats or Continuous Stirred-Tank Reactors as well as Plug-Flow Reactors) are used. More specifically, the interaction of such unit entities are studied in order to describe the spatialization of physical and biological phenomena in these systems. Particular cases of these configurations include the study of a series of chemostats or the interactions of chemostats connected by diffusion and recirculation fluxes. Following the general study of these systems, a number of practical problems such as the optimal design of biological systems or the development of specific simulation software are investigated.