Natural Resources and Bioprocesses Laboratory (NATBIO)

Natural Resources and Bioprocesses Laboratory (NATBIO)

NatBio develops mathematical tools with the aim of controlling and optimizing bioprocesses, mainly those involved in wastewater treatments, and of proposing sustainable exploitation strategies for fisheries. The transfer of knowledge to the industry and to the public sector will be a central aspect of our labor.

Research Project

Our research is focused on three main lines:

Fishery management:

Mathematical modeling can provide new perspectives on the analysis of increasing concern for the sustainability of fisheries around the world derived from overexploitation, the vulnerability of particular species, and the impact of climatic factors.Our lab works on the development of mathematical tools, mainly derived from optimal control and viability theories, for solving specific problems related to these topics. We focus on the transfer to the productive/regulatory sector or, in general, to the decision-making agents. This fact can be explained by the complexity of the dynamic models used, which are mainly designed to represent the observations via simulations instead to help to the management of the fisheries. Our research will be focused on quantitative tools for the sustainable management of fisheries, recovery programs for overexploited fisheries and classification of fish schools.

Control and optimization of bioprocesses:

The modeling and control of quantitative bioprocesses is a central issue in bioengineering. In classical macroscopic models, the biomass is viewed as a catalyst for the conversion of substrates into products. This process is represented by a set of bio-reactions that directly connect the substrates to the products without explicitly referencing the intracellular metabolism. This leads to explicit dynamics, typically represented by controlled ordinary differential equations, for which optimal control theory provides an ad-hoc tool for analyzing production problems.We focus on optimization of biogas production of wastewater treatment plants, control and optimization of wastewater treatment plants and optimization of microalgae production.

Viability approach in mining:

We will analyze the exploitation plan of ore production with methods stemming from the theory of control under constraints (viability) also making links with methods of optimal control and of operational research. The constraints can model economic stakes (minimal production) and environmental issues (maximal pollution tolerated). This research is jointly carried out with Logistic and Production Lab of CMM.


Director: Héctor Ramírez
Team: Joaquín Fontbona, Juan Peypouquet (UTFSM), Pedro Gajardo (UTFSM), Maximiliano Olivares (Engineer) and Alejandro Zuleta (Senior marine biologist).


MODEMIC team (INRIA-INRA, Montpellier, France), U. Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM), The Schools of Biochemical Engineering of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and of the Universidad de La Frontera (Temuco), Centro de Estudios Pesqueros CEPES and Subsecretaría de Pesca SUBPESCA.

Current Projects

  • Project line BIONATURE of the Communication and Information Research and Innovation Center (CIRIC), INRIA-Chile. Supported by CORFO program “Atracción de Centros de Excelencia Internacional para la Competitividad”.
  • Project Anillo- 10336: ‘‘Analysis of control problems & applications’’.