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Non-linear control of continuous bioreactors


Control of bioreactors has achieved importance in the recent years. This may be due to the fact that they are difficult to control which may be attributed to its nonlinear dynamic behavior. The model parameters of the bioreactor also vary in an unpredictable manner. The complexity of the biochemical processes inhibits the accurate modeling and also the lack of suitable sensors make the process state difficult to characterize. Considerable emphasis has been placed on the control of fed-batch fermentors because of their prevalence in industries. However, when production of biomass is to be optimized, continuous operation is desirable. Several procedures are available for the nonlinear control of processes, viz., differential geometric approach, internal model control approach, reference synthesis technique, predictive control design, etc., but the major disadvantage of these approaches is the computational time required to perform the prediction optimization. In this study, a nonlinear controller based on a polynomial discrete time model (NARMAX) is evaluated for its performance on a fermentor. It can be shown that a nonlinear self-tuning controller based on NARMAX model can be extended to the control of fermentors. The response is smooth for both load and setpoint changes even when process parameters are assumed to be zero and uncertainty in parameters are present and in the presence of controller constraints. The control action can be made more or less robust by changing the design parameters appropriately. Therefore, nonlinear self-tuning controller is suitable for control of industrial processes.

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Received: 16 March 1998

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Radhakrishnan, T., Sundaram, S. & Chidambaram, M. Non-linear control of continuous bioreactors. Bioprocess Engineering 20, 173–178 (1999).

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  • Internal Model
  • Nonlinear Control
  • Discrete Time Model
  • Nonlinear Controller
  • Suitable Sensor