Real-Time Optimization of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems Methodology and Implementation

Optimization of industrial processes aims at minimizing operating cost or maximizing economic profit while respecting plant constraints. In process industry, real-time optimization (RTO) is often considered to ensure optimal plant operation and constraint satisfaction. Solid-oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) devices oxidize fuels such as hydrogen and methane to produce electric energy through electrochemical reactions at very high efficiency. To reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and the high cost of non-renewable energies, fuel cells have become popular as an alternative energy source with a wide range of applications. The optimal operation of SOFC systems, while being subjected to changing operating conditions such as variations in the electrical power demand, remains a challenging problem in the field of control and optimization. In addition, these types of devices are characterized by slow dynamics and drifts such as degradation. This motivates the use of real-time optimization for optimizing and controlling the operation of SOFC systems. The most popular RTO technique in industry is the so-called two-step approach. This approach consists in estimating the model parameters based on measurements by solving a parameter estimation problem, and computing the next operating point by solving an optimization problem using the updated model. However, this technique is highly dependent on model accuracy and tends to fail in the presence of structural plant-model mismatch. As an alternative, modifier adaptation has been developed to enforce convergence to the plant optimum even in presence of structural plant-model mismatch. Since plant optimality is often characterized by active constraints, it is possible to use a simpler version of modifier adaptation, called constraint adaptation (CA). This approach corrects the constraints in the model-based optimization problem by means of bias terms computed from the differences between the measured and predicted values of the constraints. The active plant constraints–i.e. the intersection of the constraints where the plant opti- mum lies–for each mode of operation is typically known from experience. Therefore, as the optimum of SOFC systems typically lies on active plant constraints, we can apply constraint adaptation. One of the drawbacks of static RTO is the fact that it is necessary to wait until the plant reaches its steady state. Since this may be inappropriate for slow processes, we propose an RTO approach that can speed up the procedure by using transient measurements combined with a dynamic tendency model. In this work, we apply constraint adaptation combined with transient measurements and a dynamic model to experimental SOFC systems. The proposed approach is applied to two SOFC systems: (i) an SOFC system with 6 cells that consists of both hardware and software components; (ii) a commercial SOFC system named BlueGEN. The results obtained are very promising. For both systems, the proposed approach can reach the power demand much faster than the time it takes for the process to settle to steady state. The optimizer is quick at finding and tracking the correct set of active constraints, thus avoiding large constraint violations. In addition, we study the effect of the RTO period on the convergence rate. Finally, we show that CA acts simultaneously as a controller and an optimizer that is able to efficiently detect and track the correct set of active constraints.


Advisor(s):
Bonvin, Dominique
Faulwasser, Timm
Year:
2019
Publisher:
Lausanne, EPFL
Keywords:
Laboratories:
LA1


Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only


 Record created 2019-06-21, last modified 2019-08-20

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