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making it work

Batch Control Gets Easier

Loop tuning package doesnt demand steady-state operation

By John Gaines, Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals, and Dennis Nash, Control Station, Inc.

The nonlinear dynamics of most exothermic has two exothermic reactions that are regulated via
and endothermic batch reactions require expert at- a cascaded temperature-to-flow control architecture
tention to assure quality production. For instance, (Figure 1). Unlike most batch reactor processes,
introducing reactants often results in dramatic control is managed through adjustments to reactant
swings in temperature. Maintaining production flow. The primary control loop maintains reactor
tolerances in such an environment tests the effective- temperature within a range of 48C to 52C. The
ness of any proportional-integral-derivative (PID) secondary loop adjusts the rate of reactant flow into
controller and the associated tuning parameters. the process. This architecture enables Evonik to meet
As a global leader in specialty chemicals, Evonik the process tight temperature tolerance and operating
Industries AG understands the economic implica- specifications. However, dramatic changes to tempera-
tions of good versus poor control of batch processes. ture regularly occurred as reactant was introduced,
Headquartered in Essen, Germany, the company creating the equivalent of a process upset and resulting
produces a wide spectrum of polyamides, coating in frequent overshoot. Oscillations within the process
adhesives and other specialty chemicals. It maintains were such that the production cycle was longer than
operations in more than 100 countries; it has more necessary, averaging 27 hours.
than 25 production facilities in the U.S., including
Evonik Jayhawk Fine Chemicals in Galena, Kan. The Startup challenges
management team at Galena has been implementing Without operator intervention, during startup the
cutting-edge control technologies that are significantly process would overshoot as the reactor warmed up
reducing production cycle times and increasing the (Figure 2a). This and other process dynamics proved
plants overall profitability. difficult for plant staff to control. Manual PID tun-
The Galena facility manufactures pharmaceutical ing failed to achieve the desired results.
intermediates, specialty chemicals and herbicides, and Evonik hoped that commercial tuning pack-
industrial solvents. One of the production processes ages could accurately model the batch dynamics.

39 February 2009

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Making it work

Cascade control
impractical and sometimes impossible. In addi-
tion, the need for steady-state operation prior to the
1 2 performance of dynamic bump tests can significantly
impact a facilitys economics by decreasing through-
Reactant 1 FE Reactant 2 FE put, reducing quality, increasing off-specification
1 2
TIC TIC production, wasting feedstock and human resources,
1 2 and incurring other expenses.

1 2 The solution
To avoid these issues, Evonik turned to Loop-Pro
Reactor 1 Reactor 2
tuning technology from Control Station, Inc., Tol-
land, Ct. Version 5, officially released in July 2008,
features a patent-pending Non-Steady State Model
Fitting Innovation (NSSMFI). This breakthrough
eliminates the requirement for steady-state operation
prior to the performance of bump tests.
Figure 1. Adjust-
ment of reactant flow However, using most such software tools posed a Control Stations approach doesnt utilize a specific
regulates the reactor major problem. data point or average data point as a known and,
Almost every commercial PID tuning package therefore, isnt constrained by it. Rather, the NSSMFI
requires initial steady-state operation. By beginning adjusts the model to fit across the entire range of data
at a steadyBefore
state, these tools establish a known value under consideration rather than linking it to a specific
65 65
of operation that becomes the basis for application starting point. So, Loop-Pro can consider all possible
of their respective modeling algorithms. Bump tests model adjustments and optimize the models fit relative
then generate dynamic process data that these tuning to all of the data under analysis. This freedom results
Reactor temperature (C)
Reactor temperature (C)

55 55
packages use to model the relationship between the in a model that more accurately describes the full range
controller output and the measured process variable of dynamics within a process because it goes beyond
45 (PV). The software relies on that relationship to calcu- 45 simply characterizing the initial reaction to a bump test.
26% set point overshoot
late tuning (5C)
parameters for the PID controllers. It also supports more9% set point overshoot
(2C) optimization of a facilitys
Achieving and maintaining
74 minute settling time steady-state opera- PID controllers as users no longer
63 minute havetime
settling to wait for a
35 35
tion is challenging in a real plant environment, process to steady out before beginning their bump tests.
which is inherently dynamic due to its hundreds or The Galena facility, which already had been
25 even thousands of interacting PVs. Ensuring that 25 using Loop-Pro, upgraded to Version 5 upon its re-
0 10 20all elements
30 40of a production
50 60 process
70 are quiet and 0
80 10
lease. 20 30
Installation and40activation
50 60
of 70 80
the software was
Time (min) Time (min)
stable prior to and during bump testing often is completed in minutes; Control Stations solutions

Better startup

Before After
60 60

52 52
Reactor temperature (C)

Reactor temperature (C)

44 44

8% set point overshoot No set point overshoot

36 (3.4C) 36
19 minute settling time
133 minute settling time

28 28

20 20
0 50 100 150 200 0 50 100 150 200
Time (min) Time (min)

Figure 2. PID control eliminated set-point overshoot and cut settling time to one-seventh of that with manual control.

February 2009  40

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Making it work

Disturbance rejection

Before After
65 65

Reactor temperature (C)

Reactor temperature (C)

55 55

45 45
26% set point overshoot 9% set point overshoot
(5C) (2C)
74 minute settling time 63 minute settling time
35 35

25 25
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Time (min) Time (min)

Figure 3. Changing
engineering team provided web-based training that chemicals market, these changes are welcome news for from manual to PID
control enabled the
equipped Evonik with the know-how to effectively
Before Evonik and the Galena staff. After
secondary loop to
apply the60technology. Using bump-test data from a 60 better buffer the
impact of upstream
data historian, plant staff successfully tuned a variety John Gaines is a senior controls engineer for Evonik Jayhawk disruptions on the
of control52 loops in a matter of hours. For example, it 52 Kan. Dennis Nash is president and
Fine Chemicals, Galena,
Reactor temperature (C)

primary loop.
Reactor temperature (C)

took under one hour to analyze and tune the cascade CEO of Control Station, Inc., Tolland, Conn. E-mail them at john.
loops. Similarly,
44 less than three hours were needed 44and
to bump the process and improve the associated
8% set point overshoot No set point overshoot
36 performance. (3.4C) 36
19 minute settling time
133 minute settling time
With the introduction of tuning parameters from
Loop-Pro, 28 simple PID controllers for the cascade 28
loop effectively eliminated the overshoot problem and
20 decreased settling time (Figure 2b). The 20
0 50
plant documented a 9.3% reduction 100
in production150 200 0 50 100 150 200
Time (min) Time (min)
cycle time on each of the two batch reactors tuned
in the month of August this 2.5-hour decrease Long Lasting
includes a 30-minute drop in the feed cycle.
Manual tuning of those loops had been challenging
15-Year Shell Warranty
under normal conditions. With an oversized valve in Wont Rust
place, Evonik staff were hard pressed to determine good or Corrode
tuning parameters and to control oscillations within
the process. Loop-Pro V. 5 produced tuning parameters
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that accurately characterized the dynamics of both the Save on Maintenance Chemical Treatments
process and the oversized valve. The result was faster
settling time and, more importantly, control within the
process required range of operation (Figure 3).
In August, the software tool was used to success- The Greatest Thing
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Loop-Pro has provided significant financial ben- (polyethylene) cooling tower in 1971. Since then weve im-
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site is expected to further enhance both productivity
and profitability. In the hyper-competitive specialty

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