ModelingAndControl.com‘s Greg McMillan and Solutia’s Mark Sowell will be presenting at the upcoming ISA 54th International Instrumentation Symposium. Their paper, Advances in pH Modeling and Control, describes the use of embedded simulation, coined “Virtual Plant” and model predictive control to improve the control of pH levels in a plant waste water treatment application.
The authors begin by describing the challenge of pH control:
The pH electrode offers by far the greatest sensitivity and rangeability of any industrial process measurement in terms of the measurement of concentration (hydrogen ions). To realize the full potential of this opportunity requires extraordinary performance of mixing equipment, control valves, reagent delivery systems, flow meters, control system design, and controller tuning.
The virtual plant is described:
A virtual plant can be used to sort out fact from fiction important for insuring performance and reducing capital and operating costs. The virtual plant consists of a download of the actual control system configurations and displays, embedded advanced control tools, and a dynamic process model running on personal computer…
The articles details the control strategy used:
We developed and prototyped model predictive controllers (MPC) to replace the fuzzy logic control system. MPC-1 adjusted the 1st stage pH set point to keep the second stage reagent valve at a minimum position for good response and reliability. MPC-2 trimmed the 2nd stage set point to keep the pH in the tank at an optimum pH.
The authors describe the interaction of the virtual plant with the real plant. They write:
In order to study and improve performance of the control system and the fidelity of the process model for actual process conditions, we put the virtual plant in a read-only mode online running real time. A simple interface module was configured that used object link[ing and] embedding for process control (OPC) to read indicated waste flows, controller set points, and controller modes from the actual plant.
If you are battling pH control in a waste water treatment application, you’ll want to give this paper a read. You might also want to get your hands on one of Greg’s books, Advanced pH Measurement and Control, if pH control is currently vexing you.
Update: Greg wrote me that the presentation went well and the room could have been bigger to hold all the folks interested in hearing about this topic. He has done a slight revision on page 1 to better tie in the results to the general situation with pH systems. This version is now posted on the original hyperlink above.