Fuzzy model based predictive control of chemical processes
The past few years have witnessed a rapid growth in the use of fuzzy logic controllers for the control of processes which are complex and ill-defined. These control systems, inspired by the approximate reasoning capabilities of humans under conditions of uncertainty and imprecision, consist of linguistic 'if-then' rules which depend on fuzzy set theory for representation and evaluation using computers. Even though the fuzzy rules can be built from purely heuristic knowledge such as a human operator's control strategy, a number of difficulties face the designer of such systems. For any reasonably complex chemical process, the number of rules required to ensure adequate control in all operating regions may be extremely large. Eliciting all of these rules and ensuring their consistency and completeness can be a daunting task. An alternative to modelling the operator's response is to model the process and then to incorporate the process model into some sort of model-based control scheme. The concept of Model Based Predictive Control (MB PC) has been heralded as one of the most significant control developments in recent years. It is now widely used in the chemical and petrochemical industry and it continues to attract a considerable amount of research. Its popularity can be attributed to its many remarkable features and its open methodology. The wide range of choice of model structures, prediction horizon and optimisation criteria allows the control designer to easily tailor MBPC to his application. Features sought from such controllers include better performance, ease of tuning, greater robustness, ability to handle process constraints, dead time compensation and the ability to control nonminimum phase and open loop unstable processes. The concept of MBPC is not restricted to single-input single-output (SISO) processes. Feedforward action can be introduced easily for compensation of measurable disturbances and the use of state-space model formulation allows the approach to be generalised easily to multi-input multi-output (MIMO) systems. Although many different MBPC schemes have emerged, linear process models derived from input-output data are often used either explicitly to predict future process behaviour and/or implicitly to calculate the control action even though many chemical processes exhibit nonlinear process behaviour. It is well-recognised that the inherent nonlinearity of many chemical processes presents a challenging control problem, especially where quality and/or economic performance are important demands. In this thesis, MBPC is incorporated into a nonlinear fuzzy modelling framework. Even though a control algorithm based on a 1-step ahead predictive control strategy has initially been examined, subsequent studies focus on determining the optimal controller output using a long-range predictive control strategy. The fuzzy modelling method proposed by Takagi and Sugeno has been used throughout the thesis. This modelling method uses fuzzy inference to combine the outputs of a number of auto-regressive linear sub-models to construct an overall nonlinear process model. The method provides a more compact model (hence requiring less computations) than fuzzy modelling methods using relational arrays. It also provides an improvement in modelling accuracy and effectively overcomes the problems arising from incomplete models that characterise relational fuzzy models. Difficulties in using traditional cost function and optimisation techniques with fuzzy models have led other researchers to use numerical search techniques for determining the controller output. The emphasis in this thesis has been on computationally efficient analytically derived control algorithms. The performance of the proposed control system is examined using simulations of the liquid level in a tank, a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) system, a binary distillation column and a forced circulation evaporator system. The results demonstrate the ability of the proposed system to outperform more traditional control systems. The results also show that inspite of the greatly reduced computational requirement of our proposed controller, it is possible to equal or better the performance of some of the other fuzzy model based control systems that have been proposed in the literature. It is also shown in this thesis that the proposed control algorithm can be easily extended to address the requirements of time-varying processes and processes requiring compensation for disturbance inputs and dead times. The application of the control system to multivariable processes and the ability to incorporate explicit constraints in the optimisation process are also demonstrated.