||The process industry - businesses that deal with extracting,
transporting and processing raw materials, including their physical,
chemical or mechanical transformation - plays an important role in the
European economy. However the industry in Europe is facing many crucial
challenges that are forcing it to improve quality, reduce operating
costs and raise environmental standards all at the same time. To achieve
this, model-based control systems are expected to play a huge role.
The main limitation currently preventing model-based control from
ensuring plants operate optimally is the reliability of the models
themselves. However, current approaches for developing accurate models
involve conducting experiments on the plants, which is hugely expensive.
As a result, control laws are not often updated - if ever - even though
plant dynamics change over time. This decreases the quality of the model
and, in turn, of the control laws.
To solve this problem, we propose to develop a self-regulating,
autonomous control system. This system will continuously monitor the
control loop, detect any drop in performance, and use the least costly
experiments to update the model and adapt the control laws. To control
costs even more tightly, the system will only start this updating
procedure if it is assessed as being economically attractive.
We plan to develop procedures for designing experiments that generate
high-quality data at low cost. The experiments concerned are 1) an
experiment allowing one to develop a sufficiently accurate model for the
design of a satisfactory control law, and 2) an experiment for reliably
detecting whether changes in the system have caused the drop in
performance. In both cases, the cost of the experiment is dependent on
its duration and how much it disturbs the normal operations of the
We are looking for MSc students who would be interested to contribute to
one of the aspects in this project. This project is an European KP7 STREP project in collaboration with academic partners (KTH, Aachen, Eindhoven) and industrial partners (ABB, Boliden and Sasol).