Automation and Control

The working group on automation and control originally focussed on the modelbased control of biomass grate furnaces. Starting from horizontally moving grate furnaces with refractory-lined secondary combustion zones and water boilers with nominal boiler capacities in the range of 200 to 300 kW, we developed modelbased controls for biomass boilers in a capacity range from 30 kW to 15 MW. We dealt with a variety of grate technologies and different boiler types (warm and hot water, steam, thermal oil). Over time the work fields expanded in two fundamental directions: (i) superordinate control and operation management strategies (load management) including the associated forecasting methods for heat demand and solar yield, and (ii) the control of other thermal or thermochemical applications such as medium-scale solar thermal systems or specific processes of dual fluidized bed steam gasification systems.
The various activities can be summarised as modelling, simulation, automation and control of a variety of thermochemical and thermal processes and systems, and can be fundamentally categorised in the following three research and development fields:
1. Control of biomass conversion plants
2. Control of other energy supply technologies and processes
3. Superordinate control and operation management of hybrid energy systems
In all of these fields the objective is to mathematically model the dynamic characteristics primarily responsible for the operating behaviour in order to use them as a basis for the development of model-based control strategies. The final goal is always to advance these control concepts to market maturity in order to actually bring the increases in efficiency or reductions in pollutant emissions achieved by the improved control to practical applications.

SUBAREA 4.2 performance specifications

• Measuring technology and automation technology

Measurement of control-relevant process variables and implementation of model-based control algorithms in basic automation systems Test bench automation for automated execution of test runs

• Modelling of dynamic characteristics

Development and parametrisation of mathematical models describing the dynamic characteristics of the investigated processes and systems as a basis for model-based control strategies

• Simulation of dynamic behaviour

Numerical simulation of the dynamic behaviour of the investigated processes and systems (primarily used as a tool within control development)

• Control development

Development of (model-based) controllers and design of observers (estimators) for process variables not measurable during operation (also suitable for monitoring and fault diagnostics)

• Implementation and validation of the controllers

Practical implementation (in collaboration with company partners) Evaluation of the achieved control and operating behaviour

• Know-how transfer

Support and training of company partners during development (to market maturity)

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