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Title: Control and operation of a spinning disc reactor
Authors: Ghiasy, Dena
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The aim of the present research is to assess the control and operation of a Spinning Disc Reactor (SDR), carried out via four separate investigations. Firstly, the effect of equipment size reduction on control is studied by comparing the performance of a PID controller applied to simulated intensified and conventional processes. It was found that superior control performance in terms of Integral of Absolute Error (IAE) is achieved for the simulated intensified system. However, the results showed that intensified systems are more susceptible to disturbances and the controlled variable exhibits larger overshoots. Furthermore, the frequency response analysis of the two systems showed that the simulated intensified system has reduced stability margins. The second part of the research investigates the task of pH control in a SDR using a PID controller by means of simulation and experimental studies. The effectiveness of a disturbance observer (DO) and a pH characteriser to compensate for the severe pH system nonlinearity is also explored in detail. The experimental studies showed that a PID controller provides adequate setpoint tracking and disturbance rejection performances. However, sluggish transient responses prevailed and the effluent pH limit cycled around the setpoint. There were indications of unstable behaviour at lower flowrates, which implied more advanced control schemas may be required to adapt to various operating regions dictated by the complex thin film hydrodynamics. The addition of the DO scheme improved the control performance by reducing the limit cycles. In the third segment of the investigations, the potential of exploiting the disc rotational speed as a manipulated variable is assessed for the process of barium sulphate precipitation. A PI controller is successfully used to regulate the conductivity of the effluent stream by adjusting the disc rotational speed. The results are immensely encouraging and show that the disc speed may be used as an extra degree of freedom in control system design. Finally, the flow regimes and wave characteristics of thin liquid films produced in a SDR are investigated by means of a thermal imaging camera. The film hydrodynamics strongly affect the heat and mass transfer processes within the processing films, and thus the intensification aspects of SDRs. Therefore, effective control and operation of such units is significantly dependent on the knowledge of film hydrodynamics and the underlying impact of the operating parameters and the manipulated variables on a given process. The results provided an interesting insight and unveiled promising potentials for characterisation of thin liquid film flow and temperature profiles across the disc by means of thermographic techniques. The present study reveals both challenges and opportunities regarding the control aspects of SDRs. It is recommended that equipment design and process control need to be considered simultaneously during the early stages of the future developments. Furthermore, intensified sensors and advanced controllers may be required to achieve an optimum control capability. Currently, the control performance is inhibited by the lack of sufficient considerations during the SDR design and manufacturing stages, and also by the characteristics of the commercially available instrumentation.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials

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