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Workshop on Advanced Process Automation

The workshop on advanced process control at TU Dortmund was organized by the DYN group and IWR Heidelberg. The presentations showed the recent results from the ERC Project MOBOCON and the SPIRE Project CONSENS.


MOBOCON - Model-based Optimizing Control – from a vision to industrial reality

During the European research project MOBOCON which was funded as an ERC Grant from 01/07/2012 until 31/10/2017 a big step towards the application of online optimizing control to chemical processes was taken. The advantages of the approach of combining nonlinear model predictive control with economically motivated cost function could be validated at a pilot plant. Additionally one major obstacle for the application, the handling of uncertainty could be overcome during the MOBOCON project, by huge improvements in the gradient modifier method and by major developments in the scenario-tree concept, which is now ready to be applied in industry. During the project the very fruitful collaboration with the partner IWR in Heidelberg lead also to several advances in the mathematical foundations of optimizing control. Additionally to the successful outcome of the MOBOCON project, several interesting new research questions were raised, which we will pursue in future projects.

CONSENS - Integrated Control and Sensing

The main goal of the CONSENS project was to advance the continuous production of high-value products that meet high quality demands in flexible intensified continuous plants by introducing novel online sensing equipment and closed-loop control of the key product parameters. CONSENS focused on flexible continuous plants, but the results in the areas of sensing and control can be transferred to large-scale processes. The main achievements are a newly developed models for coiled flow inverters (CFI) and kneader reactors with PI-control enhanced by gain-scheduling as well as nonlinear model-predictive control for these processes. Furthermore, the modularization of chemical production units with a modular automation was investigated and showed promising results with up to four times faster control of a modular plant compared to a standard plant with centralized maximization throughput.


mobocon_workshop_02_gaoModifier Adaptation: Basic principle and current research (Weihua Gao)

The talk was focused on the past and recent developments of modifier adaption research. The MAWQA-approach was explained in detail: A fast robust convergence to the true plant optimum through the use of a model of medium accuracy and measured data, a powerful and practically relevant algorithm for real-time optimization.

mobocon_workshop_03_hernandezApplication of Modifier Adaptation in a miniplant for a homogenously catalyzed process (Reinaldo Hernandez)

In this talk, the summary of the main results regarding the application of a robust iterative Real-time Optimization  scheme in a continuously operated miniplant is presented. Specifically, the hydroformylation of 1-dodecene in a transition-metal homogenously catalysed process is considered. 

mobocon_workshop_04_mukkulaApplication of Modifier Adaptation to a lithiation reaction at INVITE (Anwesh Reddy Gottu-Mukkala)

Mr. Gottu-Mukkula presented a case study where a state-of-the-art iterative optimization technique, Modifier Adapatation with Quadratic Approximation (MAWQA) was applied to a lithiation reaction at INVITE, Leverkusen. The experimental results show that the MAWQA scheme identified the optimal operating point of the plant in spite of plant-model mismatch, measurement and process noise.

mobocon_workshop_05_subramanianMultistage model predictive control: Basic principle and current research (Sankaranarayanan Subramanian)

Multi-stage MPC is a robust control strategy that is non-conservative because the recourse is modeled explicitly in the predictions. Recent advances in output feedback MPC was discussed as well to handle measurement noise in addition to plant-model mismatches. The results obtained for an industrial polymerization reactor was presented.

mobocon_workshop_06_Tatuleado-mpc - A framework for the efficient development and implementation of NMPC (Alexandru Tatulea-Codrean)

The talk introduced the idea of fast and modular MPC implementations with the tool do-mpc, that was developed by Dr. Sergio  Lucia and Alexandru Tatulea as part of the MOBOCON project. The structure of the software platform, together with its key features and the development process were discussed. The usage of the tool was demonstrated with the help of results obtained for the CFI reactor test case from the CONSENS project.

mobocon_workshop_07_hasskerlRealization of optimizing control at a real reactive distillation process with product changeover (Daniel Haßkerl)

In this presentation, the application of real-time economics optimizing control to a large-scale reactive distillation process as the final stage of the MOBOCON project was shown. The presenter explained all details ranging  from the principle of the reactive distillation process as well as its modeling approach to the software realization to economics optimizing control. Experimental results from the laboratory column that is hosted in our facilities showed the functioning of the approach and were discussed briefly.

mobocon_workshop_08_potschkaRecent advances in numerical methods for NMPC (Andreas Potschka, IWR Heidelberg)

In his talk Mr. Potschka summarized methods for fastening the solution of quadratic problems based on the multilevel iteration scheme, which was applied in the MLI tool (multilevels iterations tool) developed at the IWR Heidelberg within the MOBOCON project. Next to application examples, he also presented ideas for decomposing NMPC scenario trees in order to achieve shorter optimization times.

mobocon_workshop_09_schweersModular control of modular plants (Fabian Schweers, Christian Sonntag)

The talk was focused on further process intensification and modularization of chemical production units. This requires new methodologies for their flexible and demanding automation. Within CONSENS a newly modular control approach based upon local NMPC formulations and a centralized coordinator handling local constraints to assure the feasibility of the approach were developed. As a result the modular control approach is up to four times faster compared with the centralized solution of the throughput maximization of continuous acrylic acid synthesis in tubular reactors.

mobocon_workshop_10_lindscheidResearch on operator interaction with automated plants (Clemens Lindscheid)

The talk of Mr. Lindscheid showed the first steps towards a successful integration of operators into the understanding and monitoring of advanced control solutions. With his presentation he showed how interfaces could be designed to improve operators trust in the automation.

Visits to the reactive distillation column and control room simulator

After the presentations, many participants of the workshop visited the control room simulator for testing the operator interaction and the reactive distillation column to see the practical application of the research.