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Inference of chemical reaction networks

Lookup NU author(s): Samantha Burnham, Dr Dominic Searson, Dr Mark Willis, Professor Allen Wright


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This paper demonstrates how, in principle, a chemical reaction mechanism (reaction network) can be inferred using relatively simple systematic mathematical and statistical analyses of experimental data obtained from chemical reactors. This method involves specifying a global ordinary differential equation (ODE) model structure capable of representing an entire set of possible chemical reactions. Mathematical and statistical tests are then used to reduce the ODE model structure to a subset of reactions. Finally, a model rationalisation procedure, relying on exploiting the basic rules of reaction chemistry, is used to obtain a consistent set of reactions which are combined to give the overall reaction network. The identification procedure is demonstrated for pure batch operation with a worked example using simulated noisy data from an extended Van de Vusse reaction network consisting of five species and four elementary reactions [Van de Vusse, J.G., 1964. Plug-flow type reactor versus tank reactor. Chemical Engineering Science 19, 994-997]. A further case study of a semi-batch (fed batch) system using simulated data from a simplified biodiesel system, with six chemical species involved in three elementary reactions, is provided. It is shown that the method is able to correctly identify the underlying structure of the network of chemical reactions and provide accurate estimates of the network rate constants. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Burnham SC, Searson DP, Willis MJ, Wright AR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemical Engineering Science

Year: 2008

Volume: 63

Issue: 4

Pages: 862-873

ISSN (print): 0009-2509

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4405

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.ces.2007.10.010


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