A comparison of the performance of profile position and composition estimators for quality control in binary distillation

B. Roffel, Bernardus H.L. Betlem, R.M. de Blouw

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12 Citations (Scopus)


In this study a number of control strategies have been developed for control of the overhead composition of a binary distillation column. The nonlinear wave model as presented in the literature, has been substantially modified in order to express it in variables that can easily be measured and make it more robust to feed flow and feed composition changes. The new model consists essentially of the equation for wave propagation and a static mass and energy balance across the top section of the column. Taylor series developments are used to relate the temperature on the measurement tray to the temperature and concentration on the tray where the inflection point of the concentration profile is located. The model has been incorporated in control of the overhead quality of a toluene/o-xylene benchmark column. In addition, a number of partial least squares (PLS) estimators have been developed: a nonlinear estimator for inferring the overhead composition from temperature measurements and a linear and nonlinear estimator for inferring the inflection point of the concentration profile in the column. These estimators are also used in a cascade control strategy and compared with use of the wave propagation model. Finally a control strategy consisting of a simple temperature controller and a composition controller were implemented on the simulated column. The study shows that the inferential control using PLS estimators performs equally well than control using the nonlinear wave model. In all cases the advantage of using inferential controllers is substantial compared with using single tray temperature control or composition control.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)199-210
Number of pages12
JournalComputers & chemical engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • METIS-214744
  • IR-61378

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