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2.23 Ratio Control

F. G. SHINSKEY (1970, 1985)

B. G. LIPTÁK (1995)

J. E. JAMISON, A. ROHR (2005)

INTRODUCTION

Ratio control systems maintain a relationship between two vari- ables to provide regulation of a third variable. Ratio systems are used primarily for blending ingredients into a product or as feed controls to chemical reactors. An example would be the addition of a gasoline additive under ratio control in order to maintain the required octane number of the product, which number may or may not be measured. Ratio systems portray an elementary form of feedforward control ( Section 2.9 ). In the above example, if the load input to the system (gasoline flow) changed, it would cause a variation in the controlled variable (octane number). This variation can be eliminated by an appropriate adjustment of the manipulated variable (additive flow rate). The load, or wild flow, as it is called, may be uncontrolled, controlled independently, or manipulated by other controllers that respond to the variables, such as pressure or level.

FLOW RATIO CONTROL

Ratio control is applied almost exclusively to flows. Consider maintaining a certain ratio R between ingredients A and B :

2.23(1)

R = B / A

There are two ways to accomplish this. The more com-

mon method is to calculate and manipulate the set point of

a flow loop as follows:

Set Point = B = RA 2.23(2)

This system is shown in Figure 2.23a. The set point for the flow ratio controller (FFC-2) is calculated by an adjust-

able-gain device, which is known as the ratio station. If the ratio station (FY in Figure 2.23b ) is outside the control loop,

it does not interfere with the secondary loop’s response.

The second method is to calculate the ratio R from the individual measurements of flows A and B (Equation 2.23[1]) and use this calculated ratio as the measurement input (controlled variable) into a manually set ratio control- ler (RIC). Such a scheme is shown in Figure 2.23c . The principal disadvantage of this configuration is that it places

a divider inside a closed loop. If flow B responds linearly

to the opening of valve B , the gain of the loop will vary

© 2006 by Béla Lipták

because of this divider. The differentiation of Equation 2.23(1) explains why this is true:

dR

1

R

=

=

dB

A

B

2.23(3)

Equation 2.23(3) shows that the loop gain varies both with the ratio R and the flow B . In most applications, the ratio R would not often be subject to change, but the flow B would. Because the loop gain varies inversely with flow B , this can cause instability at low rates. Therefore the use of an equal-percentage valve characteristics is essential to over- come this danger. If the ratio were inverted,

then

R = A / B

dR

A

R

=

=

dB

B

2

B

2.23(4)

2.23(5)

and the result is essentially the same. The square-root extractors in Figures 2.23c are shown in broken lines to indicate that the control system will also function without them, as it can use the flow-squared signals. If that is the case, the controlled variable is

2 22 R = BA / 2.23(6) Wild stream (A) FT 1 Set point(R) Flow
2
22
R
=
BA
/
2.23(6)
Wild stream
(A)
FT
1
Set point(R)
Flow fraction
FFC
controller
2
(ratio)
FT
2
Controlled stream
(B)

Ratio-Flow transmitter FT-1 sets flow controller FT-2

FIG. 2.23a Controlled stream is manipulated to maintain a constant ratio (R) of controlled flow (B) to wild flow (A).

305

306 Control Theory

Primary flow (F p ) √ FT FV FIC × Set FV FY FIC Secondary
Primary
flow (F p )
FT
FV
FIC
×
Set
FV
FY
FIC
Secondary
flow (F s )
FV
FT
F p
A

In this case too, for the configuration shown in Figure 2.23c, the loop gain varies inversely with flow.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The principal advantage of using the ratio control system is that the controlled variable— flow ratio— can be kept constant

and can be directly recorded to verify control performance

(Figure 2.23c). In contrast, using the loop configurations in Figures 2.23a or 2.23b would require two records and their evaluation for ratio verification. The disadvantage of using analog transmitters in ratio control is that it has no memory. For example, in a blending

R d system, if the controlled flow for any reason cannot match r G d
R
d system, if the controlled flow for any reason cannot match
r
G d
the required value, even temporarily, the resulting incorrect
Comparator
+ e
m
+
+
F s
G
G p
c
G v
composition cannot be automatically corrected because there
– b
G h
A
= Input element.
G h = Feedback sensor transfer
b
= Feedback variable.
function.
d
= Disturbance or load
Variable.
e = Error (deviation) signal.
F p = Primary flow.
F s = Secondary flow.
G c = Controller transfer
function.
G d = Disturbance or load
transfer function.
G p = Process transfer
function.
G v = Control valve transfer
function.
is no memory of the amount of past error.
One way to try to correct this situation is to add a totalizer
per stream to verify the overall correctness of total blended
product. If such information is available, subsequent operator
intervention can bring the average composition of the blend
to the desired value. Naturally, this assumes that a correct
m = Manipulated variable.
r = Reference (set-point)
Input.
mean ratio is acceptable for the purposes of the process,
rather than continuously maintaining a correct ratio.
R = Desired ratio.
FIG. 2.23b
If the ratio calculation is made outside the secondary flow control
loop, its setting does not change the dynamics or response of the loop.
As a consequence, the scale of the ratio controller or ratio
station has to be nonlinear. Differentiating Equation 2.23(6):
While head-type flow meters were used in the earlier exam-
ples, the general comments that were made are equally valid
when positive displacement (PD) or turbine-type flow detectors
are used. When the plant is controlled by microprocessor-based
digital controllers or DCS systems, the reconfiguration of such
ratio control loops requires much less effort. If the flow mea-
surement signals are transmitted utilizing bus-based technolo-
gies, the associated dead time should be considered in the tuning
of the flow ratio control loops.
2
2
d
(
R
)
222
B
R
R
===
2.23(7)
2
dB
A
A
B
RATIO STATIONS
Flow A
No matter what portion of the ratio control loop is imple-
mented in hardware or in software, a computing element must
FT
Ratio
A
calculator
be used whose scaling requires some consideration. The ratio
station (FY in Figure 2.23b) normally has a gain range of
%
FY
FY
FY
SP
Ratio
FIC
controller
about 0.3 to 3.0. The primary flow signal Fp , in percent of
scale, is multiplied by the gain setting to produce a set point
for the secondary flow controller ( Fs ), in percent of scale.
The true flow ratio must take into account the scales of the
two flowmeters. The setting of the ratio station is related to
the true flow ratio by
FT
B FCV
R = (true flow ratio)(Scale of Fp )/(Scale of Fs ) 2.23(8)
B
Flow B
FIG. 2.23c
Here the ratio of flows A and B is calculated by a divider within
the closed ratio control loop (FIC). The disadvantage of this
approach is that the loop gain changes every time the ratio setting
of flow B changes.
As an example, assume that the true flow ratio of the
additive to gasoline is to be 2.0 cc/gal (0.53 cc/ ). If the
additive flow scale is 0 to 1200 cc/min, and the gasoline flow
scale is 0 to 500 gal/min (0 to 1890 /m), then:
500 gal/ min
R = 2 0
. cc/gal
=
0. 833
2.23(9)
1200 cc/min

© 2006 by Béla Lipták

2.23

Ratio Control

307

TABLE 2.23d Comparing the Actual Ratio Settings Required for Linear and Head-Type Flowmeters to Obtain the Same Flow Ratio

Actual Ratio (Gain) Setting Required to Achieve the Desired Ratio

Flow Ratio

Desired

If Signals

If Flow-Squared Signals Are Used and

Are Linear

the Scale Is Linear

0.6

0.6

0.8

0.8

1.0

1.0

1.2

1.2

1.4

1.4

1.6

1.6

0.36

0.64

1.0

1.44

1.96

2.56

When head-type flowmeter signals are used and the scale is linear, such scale should show the square root of R in order to be meaningful. Table 2.23d compares the gain of a ratio station (corresponding to linear flow ratio) with the ratio setting for head-type flowmeters. As shown by Table 2.23d, the available range of ratio settings is seriously limited when using squared flow signals.

A ratio controller (FFC-2 in Figure 2.23a ) combines the

ratio function and the controller in one unit. If implemented in hardware, it saves cost and panel space. Such algorithms are also available in digitally based control systems. Since ratio stations are used with remote-set controllers, some means must be available for setting flow locally during start-up, or during abnormal operation. An auto-manual station is sometimes provided for this purpose. With the ratio controller, this feature requires two scales on the set point mechanism— one reading in ratio for remote-set operation, the other reading in flow units for local-set operation. When using a divider with linear flow signals as the ratio calculator, the scale factor for the divider should be 1/2. This places a ratio of 1.0 at midscale:

R = 1

B 2.23(10)
A

2

Equal flow signals will produce a 50% output from the divider, and the full ratio range is then 0 to 2.0, linear. If flow- squared signals are used, the divider should have a scale factor of 1/3 to provide a full range of 0 to 1.73, with a square root scale. This places a ratio of 1.0 ( A = B ) at 0.58 on the square root scale.

B

2 2.23(11)
A

If a scale factor of 1/2 were used, the ratio range would

R

2

=

1

2

3

be restricted to 0 to 1.41.

© 2006 by Béla Lipták

SETTING THE RATIO REMOTELY

When a divider is used to calculate the flow ratio (Figure 2.23c), the set point for this ratio can come from other, related segments of the plant’s process. In order to do this correctly, a multiplier must replace the ratio station (Figure 2.23b). If the flow mea- surement signals are linear, the usual choice of scaling factor for such a multiplier is 2.0:

2.23(12)

In this way, a ratio of 1.0 appears at mid-scale of the ratio

input ( R = 50%), when A = B . If squared flow signals are used,

a scaling factor of 3.0 provides a ratio range of 0 to 1.73:

B = 2 RA

B 2 = 3 R 2 A 2

2.23(13)

One reason for using a multiplier to set the flow ratio (Figure 2.23b) is the availability (even in hardware) of very narrow ratio ranges for those applications in which the need for precision, not rangeability, is paramount. Ratio ranges of 0.9 to 1.1, 0.8 to 1.2, etc. are possible.

A typical application would be the accurate proportioning

of ammonia and air to an oxidation reactor for the production of nitric acid. If the compositions of the individual feeds are constant, only a very fine adjustment of the ratio is required.

RATIO CONTROL APPLICATIONS

Blending

Figure 2.23e shows a combination of cascade and ratio con- trols of blending fluids A and B and sending the mix into a

blend tank. In this process, the liquid level in the blend tank

is affected by total flow, hence the liquid level controller sets

flow A , which in turn sets flow B proportionately. (Whenever adjusting the set point
flow A , which in turn sets flow B proportionately. (Whenever
adjusting the set point of a head-type flow controller in a
Flow A
FT
A
Set
point
FY
FIC
LIC
A A
Ratio
set point
FY
AIC
FY
FIC
B B
FT
B
Flow B

FIG. 2.23e The level controller manipulates flow rate and the composition controller manipulates flow ratio.

308 Control Theory

cascade manner, in order to prevent instability at low flows, the square root is removed from the flow measurement signal and linear flow signals are used.) Conversely, composition is not affected by the absolute value of either flow but only by their ratio. Therefore, to make a change in composition, the AIC controller must adjust the ratio set point of the multiplier (FY). To minimize the interaction of the composition controller with blend tank level control (through its manipulation of flow B ), flow B should be the smaller of the two streams.

Distribution Controls A special case of ratio control is dis- tribution control. When a common supply of some material is to be distributed among three or more destinations, an addi- tional degree of freedom is created. Therefore, in addition to setting the individual flow controllers to some percentage of the total flow, one can also make sure that the system pressure drop is minimized. Because equal flow distribution can be achieved with all the valves nearly open, nearly closed, or anywhere in between, one must introduce an additional control variable.

This new controller (VPC in Figure 2.23f) is usually selected to be the opening of the most-open control valve. If the most-open valve is held nearly fully open while the flows are equally distributed, the control system is fully defined and is also efficient because it provides the minimum resis- tance to flow. This approach is applicable to all liquid or gas distribution controls, and its use is illustrated by the example of distributing the returning cooling tower water among sev- eral cooling cells. The purpose of the control system in Figure 2.23f is not only to distribute the returning water correctly between cells but also to make sure that this is done at minimum cost of operation. The operating cost in this case is pumping cost, and it will be minimal when the pressure drop through the control valves is minimal. This is the function of the valve position controller (VPC) in Figure 2.23f. As long as even the most open valve is not nearly fully open, the VPC adds a positive bias to all the set-point signals of all the flow fraction controllers (FFICs). As a result, all valves open and keep opening until the most open valve reaches the desired 95%. This technique enables the meeting of the dual goals

FT + Σ + SP SP SP FFIC FT FFIC FFIC FT FT Set FC
FT
+
Σ
+
SP
SP
SP
FFIC
FT
FFIC
FFIC
FT
FT
Set
FC
FC
FC
at
95%
>
VPC
Integral
only
M1
M2
M3
RA
Air
Air
Air
at
at
at
Air
Air
Air
Twb
Twb
Twb
at
at
at
Twb
Twb
Twb
Users

FIG. 2.23f Pumping costs can be minimized automatically by operating water distribution systems at minimum pressure drop and therefore with the most open control valve nearly fully open.

© 2006 by Béla Lipták

2.23

Ratio Control

309

of providing the correct flow distribution and doing it at a minimum cost in pumping energy. When cooling tower cells are manually balanced, it is not unusual to find all balancing valves throttled to some extent or to see the same water flow when the fan is on or off. Both of these conditions are undesirable because they will increase operating costs. The savings from automatic balancing can more than justify the instruments required for implementing it.

Surge Control of Compressors

In compressor surge protection applications, the ratio that is controlled is not between flows. The surge line of variable speed compressors closely approximates a parabola if the pressure rise across the machine ( Pd Pi ) is plotted against the volumetric inlet flow rate (Figure 2.23g). If the pressure rise across the compressor ( Pd Pi ) is plotted against the orifice differential ( h ) of a head-type flow sensor located in the inlet to the compressor (Figure 2.23h), the surge line becomes an almost straight line. Because surge occurs at low flows, the control system is so configured as to keep the compressor operations to the right of the surge line. Therefore, the set point for the surge protection FIC is the surge line itself ( m ( P )) plus a safety bias (b). This in effect locates the control line parallel with and to the right of the surge line.

M PDT FT P d − P i h
M
PDT
FT
P d − P i
h

Surge valve

Surge limit Characteristic curves for various compressor speeds 100% F 90% E 80% D 70%
Surge limit
Characteristic
curves for various
compressor speeds
100%
F
90%
E
80%
D
70%
C
60%
B
50%
A
Pressure increase P d − P i , PSI

Inlet capacity, actual ft 3 /min.

FIG. 2.23g The surge line of a variable speed centrifugal compressor is para- bolic if the pressure rise across the machine (Pd Pi) is plotted against inlet volumetric flow rate.

© 2006 by Béla Lipták

Users Compressor P d Ratio relay ∆P ∆PT ∆PY P i m(∆P) + b FCV
Users
Compressor
P
d
Ratio
relay
∆P
∆PT
∆PY
P
i
m(∆P) + b
FCV
SP
h
FT
FIC
FO
Surge
PI
measurement
DA
To vent or
recycle
Surge valve opens if
h < m(∆P) + b
Compressor
Surge line
speeds
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
Pressure increase P d − P i , PSI

Differential pressure h, PSI

FIG. 2.23h The parabola shape of the surge line changes to a straight line if the pressure rise across the compressor (Pd Pi) is plotted against the orifice differential (h) of a head-type flow meter.

The slope m of the surge line is

m = ( Pd Pi )/ h 2.23(14)

where ( Pd Pi ) is the head of the compressor and h is the differential pressure across the flow element. A safe set point for the flow controller (FIC) is

h = ( Pd Pi )/ m + bias 2.23(15)

The complete surge control loop is shown in Figure 2.23h. The figure shows both the surge line and the control line at which the surge valve opens.

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310 Control Theory

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© 2006 by Béla Lipták

Murrill, P., Fundamentals of Process Control, 2nd ed., Research Triangle Park, NC: ISA 1991. Nachtigal. C. N., Instrumentation and Control, New York: Wiley, 1990. Phillips, C. L., and Harbor, R. D., Feedback Control Systems, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991. Roffel, B., and Chin, P., Computer Control in the Process Industries, Chelsea, MI: Lewis Publishers, 1989. Rowan, D., “On-Line Expert Systems in Process Industries,” AI/Expert, August 1989. Seborg, D., and Mellichamp, D. A., Process Dynamics and Control, 2nd ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. Shinskey, F. G., “Control Topics,” Publ. no. 413-1 to 413-8, Foxboro Company, 1976.

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1996.

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