Modelling and Control for a Sustainable Future

Working with various thesis students from different backgrounds and studies made me realize that, as diverse as their subjects may be, modelling (and sometimes control) plays an essential role to come to a new design of a process. The goal of this design is always to make it better, more environment friendly, more sustainable. Often the task is to close the cycle in a smarter way, by introducing new possibilities for feed, or gaining energy from sun, wind or other sources.

Some thesis projects from previous years include:

  • Dynamic modelling of duckweed growth
  • Micro algal production combined with anaerobic manure digesting
  • Modelling of biogas production process in an anaerobic digester
  • Local sustainable hydrogen production, collaboration between farm and tank station
  • Investigating the production of anhydrous ammonia on the farm
  • Mechanistic modelling of pig growth to investigate the possibilities to feed pigs individually
  • Algae cultivation in vertical plate reactors, researching the decay of diffuse light

Highlight of the past year

In 2015 Niek van den Top won the Shell Bachelor Prize in 2015 for his work on the ECOFERM farm, a closed-cycle farm for rosé calves where duckweed production is combined with growing calves.

The concept of the ECOFERM farm is to use the body heat of the calves and their urine and manure to grow duckweed. The duckweed is then used as feed for the calves, thus closing the cycle.

Type of student projects envisioned

Student projects include modelling scientific models based on first principles (e.g. energy and mass balances, equations from physics), programming and computing expected results. If possible, these models will be validated with data which is measured on location, or on self-made setups.