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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Chemical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



One of the most promising routes to renewable liquid fuels and chemicals is the fermentation of waste carbon by specialized microbes. Commercial development of gas fermentation technology is underway but many fundamental research problems must be addressed to further advance the technology towards economic competitiveness. This thesis addresses the important problem of developing integrated metabolic and transport models that predict gas fermentation performance in industrially relevant bubble column reactors. The computational models describe the conversion of CO-rich waste streams including synthesis gas to the platform chemical butyrate. The proposed modeling approach involves combining genome-scale reconstructions of bacterial species metabolism with transport equations that govern the relevant multiphase convective and diffusional processes within the spatially-varying system. I compared the combination of the acetogen Clostridium autoethanogenum for CO conversion to the intermediate acetate and three different gut bacteria (Clostridium hylemonae, Eubacterium rectale and Roseburia hominis) for conversion of acetate to butyrate. Trial-and-error optimization of the three co-culture designs was performed to assess their relative performance and guide future experimental studies.


First Advisor

Michael Henson

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.