February 2006

Special Report: Clean Fuels

Multivariable step testing for MPC projects reduces crude unit testing time

The approach also improves model accuracy without sacrificing process safety

Craik, M., Irving Oil Limited; Harmse, M., Kalafatis, A., Patel, K., Zheng, Q., Aspen Technology

Plant testing has traditionally been a time-consuming phase of most model predictive control (MPC) applications. A traditional plant test would require that one manipulated variable (MV) be moved at a time, and each step move should be held for an average of half the process settling time. Depending on the number of MVs and the process characteristics for a particular MPC application, plant testing could take up to several weeks to complete. Especially for processes with a large number of MVs and/or long settling times, plant testing could be prohibitively long and, thus, very expensive. Besides the high cost of a long single-move test (one MV at a time), the step-test data may not contain

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