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Title: Model-based design, operation and control of pressure swing adsorption systems
Author: Khajuria, Harish
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 2396
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis is concerned with the design, operation and control of pressure swing adsorption (PSA) systems, employing state of the art system engineering tools. A detailed mathematical model is developed which captures the hydrodynamic, mass transfer and equilibrium effects in detail to represent the real PSA operation. The first detailed case study presented in this work deals with the design of an explicit/multi-parametric model predictive controller for the operation of a PSA system comprising four adsorbent beds undergoing nine process steps, separating 70 % H2, 30 % CH4 mixture into high purity hydrogen. The key controller objective is to fast track H2 purity to a set point value of 99.99 %, manipulating time duration of the adsorption step, under the effect of process disturbances. To perform the task, a rigorous and systematic framework is employed comprising four main steps of model development, system identification, the mp-MPC formulation, and in-silico closed loop validation, respectively. Detailed comparison studies of the derived explicit MPC controller are also performed with the conventional PID controllers, for a multitude of disturbance scenarios. Following the controller design, a detailed design and control optimization study is presented which incorporates the design, operational and control aspects of PSA operation simultaneously, with the objective of improving real time operability. This is in complete contrast to the traditional approach for the design of process systems, which employs a two step sequential method of first design and then control. A systematic and rigorous methodology is employed towards this purpose and is applied to a two-bed, six-step PSA system represented by a rigorous mathematical model, where the key optimization objective is to maximize the expected H2 recovery while achieving a closed loop product H2 purity of 99.99 %, for separating 70 % H2, 30 % CH4 feed. Furthermore, two detailed comparative studies are also conducted. In the first study, the optimal design and control configuration obtained from the simultaneous and sequential approaches are compared in detail. In the second study, an mp-MPC controller is designed to investigate any further improvements in the closed loop response of the optimal PSA system. The final area of research work is related to the development of an industrial scale, integrated PSA-membrane separation system. Here, the key objective is to enhance the overall recovery of "fuel cell ready" 99.99 % pure hydrogen, produced from the steam methane reforming route, where PSA is usually employed as the purification system. In the first stage, the stand-alone PSA and membrane configurations are optimized performing dynamic simulations on the mathematical model. During this procedure, both upstream and downstream membrane configuration are investigated in detail. For the hybrid configuration, membrane area and PSA cycle time are chosen as the key design parameters. Furthermore, life cycle analysis studies are performed on the hybrid system to evaluate its environmental impact in comparison to the stand-alone PSA system.
Supervisor: Pistikopoulos, Stratos Sponsor: Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 ; ParOS Ltd ; EPSRC ; Hy2SEPS
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral