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[Online] Smart Process Manufacturing

Guest Editors-in-Chief 
Feng Qian, East China University of Science and Technology, China
Ian David Lockhart Bogle, University College London, United Kingdom
Executive Associate Editors
Wenli Du, East China University of Science and Technology, China
Yang Tang, East China University of Science and Technology, China
Aibing Yu, Monash University, Australia
Babatunde Ogunnaike, University of Delaware, USA
Bingzhen Chen, Tsinghua University, China
Frank L. Lewis, University of Texas, USA
Guy Marin, Ghent University, Belgium
Jinghai Li, Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Jingkang Wang, Tianjing University, China
Madhava Syamlal, National Energy Technology Laboratory, USA
Nilay Shah, Imperial College London, UK
Tianyou Chai, Northeastern University, China
Vladimir Mahalec, McMaster University, Canada
Weihua Gui, Central South University, China
You Xian, Zhejiang University, China
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Upstream Operations in the Oil Industry: Rigorous Modeling of an Electrostatic Coalescer
Francesco Rossi,Simone Colombo,Sauro Pierucci,Eliseo Ranzi,Flavio Manenti
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 220-231.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.013
Abstract   HTML   PDF (3608KB)

This paper deals with a first-principle mathematical model that describes the electrostatic coalescer units devoted to the separation of water from oil in water-in-oil emulsions, which are typical of the upstream operations in oil fields. The main phenomena governing the behavior of the electrostatic coalescer are described, starting from fundamental laws. In addition, the gradual coalescence of the emulsion droplets is considered in the mathematical modeling in a dynamic fashion, as the phenomenon is identified as a key step in the overall yield of the unit operation. The resulting differential system with boundary conditions is then integrated via performing numerical libraries, and the simulation results confirm the available literature and the industrial data. A sensitivity analysis is provided with respect to the main parameters. The mathematical model results in a flexible tool that is useful for the purposes of design, unit behavior prediction, performance monitoring, and optimization.

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Global Optimization of Nonlinear Blend-Scheduling Problems
Pedro A. Castillo Castillo,Pedro M. Castro,Vladimir Mahalec
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 188-201.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.005
Abstract   HTML   PDF (2645KB)

The scheduling of gasoline-blending operations is an important problem in the oil refining industry. This problem not only exhibits the combinatorial nature that is intrinsic to scheduling problems, but also non-convex nonlinear behavior, due to the blending of various materials with different quality properties. In this work, a global optimization algorithm is proposed to solve a previously published continuous-time mixed-integer nonlinear scheduling model for gasoline blending. The model includes blend recipe optimization, the distribution problem, and several important operational features and constraints. The algorithm employs piecewise McCormick relaxation (PMCR) and normalized multiparametric disaggregation technique (NMDT) to compute estimates of the global optimum. These techniques partition the domain of one of the variables in a bilinear term and generate convex relaxations for each partition. By increasing the number of partitions and reducing the domain of the variables, the algorithm is able to refine the estimates of the global solution. The algorithm is compared to two commercial global solvers and two heuristic methods by solving four examples from the literature. Results show that the proposed global optimization algorithm performs on par with commercial solvers but is not as fast as heuristic approaches.

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Nonlinear Model-Based Process Operation under Uncertainty Using Exact Parametric Programming
Vassilis M. Charitopoulos,Lazaros G. Papageorgiou,Vivek Dua
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 202-213.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.008
Abstract   HTML   PDF (5785KB)

In the present work, two new, (multi-)parametric programming (mp-P)-inspired algorithms for the solution of mixed-integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) problems are developed, with their main focus being on process synthesis problems. The algorithms are developed for the special case in which the nonlinearities arise because of logarithmic terms, with the first one being developed for the deterministic case, and the second for the parametric case (p-MINLP). The key idea is to formulate and solve the square system of the first-order Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) conditions in an analytical way, by treating the binary variables and/or uncertain parameters as symbolic parameters. To this effect, symbolic manipulation and solution techniques are employed. In order to demonstrate the applicability and validity of the proposed algorithms, two process synthesis case studies are examined. The corresponding solutions are then validated using state-of-the-art numerical MINLP solvers. For p-MINLP, the solution is given by an optimal solution as an explicit function of the uncertain parameters.

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Smart Manufacturing for the Oil Refining and Petrochemical Industry
Zhihong Yuan,Weizhong Qin,Jinsong Zhao
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 179-182.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.012
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1178KB)

Smart manufacturing will transform the oil refining and petrochemical sector into a connected, information-driven environment. Using real-time and high-value support systems, smart manufacturing enables a coordinated and performance-oriented manufacturing enterprise that responds quickly to customer demands and minimizes energy and material usage, while radically improving sustainability, productivity, innovation, and economic competitiveness. In this paper, several examples of the application of so-called “smart manufacturing” for the petrochemical sector are demonstrated, such as the fault detection of a catalytic cracking unit driven by big data, advanced optimization for the planning and scheduling of oil refinery sites, and more. Key scientific factors and challenges for the further smart manufacturing of chemical and petrochemical processes are identified.

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Recent Progress on Data-Based Optimization for Mineral Processing Plants
Jinliang Ding,Cuie Yang,Tianyou Chai
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 183-187.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.015
Abstract   HTML   PDF (19465KB)

In the globalized market environment, increasingly significant economic and environmental factors within complex industrial plants impose importance on the optimization of global production indices; such optimization includes improvements in production efficiency, product quality, and yield, along with reductions of energy and resource usage. This paper briefly overviews recent progress in data-driven hybrid intelligence optimization methods and technologies in improving the performance of global production indices in mineral processing. First, we provide the problem description. Next, we summarize recent progress in data-based optimization for mineral processing plants. This optimization consists of four layers: optimization of the target values for monthly global production indices, optimization of the target values for daily global production indices, optimization of the target values for operational indices, and automation systems for unit processes. We briefly overview recent progress in each of the different layers. Finally, we point out opportunities for future works in data-based optimization for mineral processing plants.

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New Trends in Olefin Production
Ismaël Amghizar,Laurien A. Vandewalle,Kevin M. Van Geem,Guy B. Marin
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 171-178.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.006
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1199KB)

Most olefins (e.g., ethylene and propylene) will continue to be produced through steam cracking (SC) of hydrocarbons in the coming decade. In an uncertain commodity market, the chemical industry is investing very little in alternative technologies and feedstocks because of their current lack of economic viability, despite decreasing crude oil reserves and the recognition of global warming. In this perspective, some of the most promising alternatives are compared with the conventional SC process, and the major bottlenecks of each of the competing processes are highlighted. These technologies emerge especially from the abundance of cheap propane, ethane, and methane from shale gas and stranded gas. From an economic point of view, methane is an interesting starting material, if chemicals can be produced from it. The huge availability of crude oil and the expected substantial decline in the demand for fuels imply that the future for proven technologies such as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) or methanol to gasoline is not bright. The abundance of cheap ethane and the large availability of crude oil, on the other hand, have caused the SC industry to shift to these two extremes, making room for the on-purpose production of light olefins, such as by the catalytic dehydrogenation of propane.

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Real-Time Assessment and Diagnosis of Process Operating Performance
Shabnam Sedghi,Biao Huang
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 214-219.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.004
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1644KB)

Over time, the performance of processes may deviate from the initial design due to process variations and uncertainties, making it necessary to develop systematic methods for online optimality assessment based on routine operating process data. Some processes have multiple operating modes caused by the set point change of the critical process variables to achieve different product specifications. On the other hand, the operating region in each operating mode can alter, due to uncertainties. In this paper, we will establish an optimality assessment framework for processes that typically have multi-mode, multi-region operations, as well as transitions between different modes. The kernel density approach for mode detection is adopted and improved for operating mode detection. For online mode detection, the model-based clustering discriminant analysis (MclustDA) approach is incorporated with some a priori knowledge of the system. In addition, multi-modal behavior of steady-state modes is tackled utilizing the mixture probabilistic principal component regression (MPPCR) method, and dynamic principal component regression (DPCR) is used to investigate transitions between different modes. Moreover, a probabilistic causality detection method based on the sequential forward floating search (SFFS) method is introduced for diagnosing poor or non-optimum behavior. Finally, the proposed method is tested on the Tennessee Eastman (TE) benchmark simulation process in order to evaluate its performance.

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Artificial versus Natural Reuse of CO2 for DME Production: Are We Any Closer?
Mariano Martín
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 166-170.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.002
Abstract   HTML   PDF (4217KB)

This work uses a mathematical optimization approach to analyze and compare facilities that either capture carbon dioxide (CO2) artificially or use naturally captured CO2 in the form of lignocellulosic biomass toward the production of the same product, dimethyl ether (DME). In nature, plants capture CO2 via photosynthesis in order to grow. The design of the first process discussed here is based on a superstructure optimization approach in order to select technologies that transform lignocellulosic biomass into DME. Biomass is gasified; next, the raw syngas must be purified using reforming, scrubbing, and carbon capture technologies before it can be used to directly produce DME. Alternatively, CO2 can be captured and used to produce DME via hydrogenation. Hydrogen (H2) is produced by splitting water using solar energy. Facilities based on both photovoltaic (PV) solar or concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies have been designed; their monthly operation, which is based on solar availability, is determined using a multi-period approach. The current level of technological development gives biomass an advantage as a carbon capture technology, since both water consumption and economic parameters are in its favor. However, due to the area required for growing biomass and the total amount of water consumed (if plant growing is also accounted for), the decision to use biomass is not a straightforward one.

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A Perspective on Smart Process Manufacturing Research Challenges for Process Systems Engineers
Ian David Lockhart Bogle
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 161-165.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.003
Abstract   HTML   PDF (418KB)

The challenges posed by smart manufacturing for the process industries and for process systems engineering (PSE) researchers are discussed in this article. Much progress has been made in achieving plant- and site-wide optimization, but benchmarking would give greater confidence. Technical challenges confronting process systems engineers in developing enabling tools and techniques are discussed regarding flexibility and uncertainty, responsiveness and agility, robustness and security, the prediction of mixture properties and function, and new modeling and mathematics paradigms. Exploiting intelligence from big data to drive agility will require tackling new challenges, such as how to ensure the consistency and confidentiality of data through long and complex supply chains. Modeling challenges also exist, and involve ensuring that all key aspects are properly modeled, particularly where health, safety, and environmental concerns require accurate predictions of small but critical amounts at specific locations. Environmental concerns will require us to keep a closer track on all molecular species so that they are optimally used to create sustainable solutions. Disruptive business models may result, particularly from new personalized products, but that is difficult to predict.

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Fundamental Theories and Key Technologies for Smart and Optimal Manufacturing in the Process Industry
Feng Qian,Weimin Zhong,Wenli Du
Engineering    2017, 3 (2): 154-160.   DOI: 10.1016/J.ENG.2017.02.011
Abstract   HTML   PDF (1352KB)

Given the significant requirements for transforming and promoting the process industry, we present the major limitations of current petrochemical enterprises, including limitations in decision-making, production operation, efficiency and security, information integration, and so forth. To promote a vision of the process industry with efficient, green, and smart production, modern information technology should be utilized throughout the entire optimization process for production, management, and marketing. To focus on smart equipment in manufacturing processes, as well as on the adaptive intelligent optimization of the manufacturing process, operating mode, and supply chain management, we put forward several key scientific problems in engineering in a demand-driven and application-oriented manner, namely: ① intelligent sensing and integration of all process information, including production and management information; ② collaborative decision-making in the supply chain, industry chain, and value chain, driven by knowledge; ③ cooperative control and optimization of plant-wide production processes via human-cyber-physical interaction; and ④life-cycle assessments for safety and environmental footprint monitoring, in addition to tracing analysis and risk control. In order to solve these limitations and core scientific problems, we further present fundamental theories and key technologies for smart and optimal manufacturing in the process industry. Although this paper discusses the process industry in China, the conclusions in this paper can be extended to the process industry around the world.

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