Computer control of chemical process plants with special reference to distillation

  • Siavash Daie

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A sieve plate distillation column has been constructed and interfaced to a minicomputer with the necessary instrumentation for dynamic, estimation and control studies with special bearing on low-cost and noise-free instrumentation.
A dynamic simulation of the column with a binary liquid system has been compiled using deterministic models that include fluid dynamics via Brambilla's equation for tray liquid holdup calculations. The simulation predictions have been tested experimentally under steady-state and transient conditions. The simulator's predictions of the tray temperatures have shown reasonably close agreement with the measured values under steady-state conditions and in the face of a step change in the feed rate.
A method of extending linear filtering theory to highly nonlinear systems with very nonlinear measurement functional relationships has been proposed and tested by
simulation on binary distillation. The simulation results have proved that the proposed methodology can overcome the typical instability problems associated with the Kalman filters. Three extended Kalman filters have been formulated
and tested by simulation. The filters have been used to refine a much simplified model sequentially and to estimate parameters such as the unmeasured feed composition using information from the column simulation. It is first assumed
that corrupted tray composition measurements are made available to the filter and then corrupted tray temperature measurements are accessed instead. The simulation results have demonstrated the powerful capability of the Kalman
filters to overcome the typical hardware problems associated with the operation of on-line analyzers in relation to distillation dynamics and control by, in effect, replacirig them.
A method of implementing estimator-aided feedforward (EAFF) control schemes has been proposed and tested by simulation on binary distillation. The results have shown that the EAFF scheme provides much better control and energy conservation than the conventional feedback temperature control in the face of a sustained step change in the feed rate or multiple changes in the feed rate, composition and temperature.
Further extensions of this work are recommended as regards simulation, estimation and EAFF control.
Date of AwardJul 1980
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorB. Gay (Supervisor)


  • control
  • distillation
  • simulation
  • estimation
  • feedforward
  • interfacing

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