October 2004

Special Report: Improving Process Control

Model-free adaptive technology improves distillation column chain control

It enabled PetroChina to increase production safety and efficiency

Cheng, G. S., CyboSoft; Zhang, W. D., PetroChina

Distillation columns are the most widely used operating units in the chemical industry (Fig. 1). Energy consumed by distillation columns contributes to more than 50% of plant operating costs. It is desirable to tightly control the bottom and tray temperatures to optimize separation, avoid flooding, minimize steam consumption and maximize yield. This multiphase and multivariable process is so complex that control of its temperature, pressure and level loop can be difficult. Model-free adaptive (MFA) control technology improved distillation column control at this PetroChina plant.  Fig. 1  

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