Modelling and MPC for a Primary Gas Reformer

  • Author / Creator
    Sun, Lei
  • In the steam methane reforming process, improvement of the reformed gas outlet temperature control performance can lead to a larger hydrogen production rate, while ensuring safe process operation. In this work, a side fired primary gas reformer is investigated. The three objectives of this work are: 1) to develop a process model that describes the dynamic relationship between the temperature of the reformed gas (process output) and the process variables consisting of manipulated and disturbance variables; 2) to develop optimization strategies for manipulating side-fired burners in order to provide smooth heat flux profiles that can prolong tube life and uniform reformed gas outlet temperatures; 3) to design predictive controllers that regulate the production process accurately. As a first step, dynamic models for a generic primary gas reformer are developed by using homogeneous-phase one-dimensional reaction kinetics equations to describe the chemical reactions inside the reforming tubes and computing the external heat transfer to the tubes by radiation and convection. The model consists of a set of 1) coupled non-linear hyperbolic Partial Differential Equations (PDEs), which describe the product conversion rate and temperature profiles along each fixed bed catalytic tube reactors inside the furnace; 2) Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs), which describe the temperatures of combustion gas and refractory walls; and 3) Algebraic Equations (AEs), which describe the heat flux profiles along the refractory walls towards tube reactors. These dynamic models lay a foundation for system optimization and optimal control design. Mixed Integer Non-Linear Programming (MINLP) technique is used with the process model to determine optimal steady state operation condition. The objective is to find the optimal operating conditions for the side wall burners to maintain uniform reformed gas outlet temperatures within a certain range and to provide approximately flat profiles of radiant heat flux to the tubes. Four objective functions are proposed and their performances are compared. Constant disturbance effects that may cause uneven distribution in the system is also studied. Model Predictive Control (MPC) application using both early-lumping (a conventional MPC) and late-lumping (Characteristic-based MPC) approximations is studied for the outlet temperature control of the primary gas reformer. Set-point tracking and disturbance rejection performances of the two MPC controllers are evaluated. It is demonstrated that both predictive controllers are capable of providing satisfactory performance, while CBMPC yields a much shorter convergence time. Difference between the two controllers are further discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • Specialization
    • Process Control
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Huang, Biao (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
    • Forbes, Fraser (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Huang, Biao (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
    • Liu, Jinfeng (Chemical and Materials Engineering)
    • Forbes, Fraser (Chemical and Materials Engineering)