Infoscience

Conference paper

Optimal grade transition for polyethylene reactors via NCO tracking

In fluidized-bed gas-phase polymerization reactors, several grades of polyethylene are produced in the same equipment by changing the operating conditions. Transitions between the different grades are rather slow and result in the production of a considerable amount of off-specification polymer. Grade transition improvement is viewed here as a dynamic optimization problem, for which numerous approaches exist. Numerical optimization based on a nominal process model is typically insufficient due to the presence of uncertainty in the form of model mismatch and process disturbances. This paper proposes to implement optimal grade transition using a measurement-based approach instead. It is based on tracking the Necessary Conditions of Optimality (NCO tracking) using a decentralized control scheme. For this, the nominal input profiles are dissected into arcs and switching times that are assigned to the various parts of the NCO. These input elements are then adapted using appropriate measurements. NCO tracking is used to determine optimal grade transition in polyethylene reactors. The problem of minimizing the transition time from a steady state of low melt index to that of high melt index is studied, with the feeds of hydrogen and inert and the output flow rate considered as manipulated variables. In the optimal solution, all arcs are determined by path constraints, and all switching times are determined by path and terminal constraints, which significantly eases the adaptation. The on-line and run-to-run adaptation of these parameters is illustrated in simulation.

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