Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Control of a Furnace and a Heat Exchanger Used in Oil Refining Industry by Using Virtual Environments

(*) Corresponding author

Authors' affiliations



The refining process allows to separate crude oil in different components in order to obtain a variety of very useful products, in the daily life of the human being. Before the distillation, it is common to have a preheating stage, where the crude oil circulates through a heat exchanger in order to increase the temperature around 393K, and then, for its subsequent passage through a methane furnace it reaches a temperature of 793K. The furnace structure has a network of tubes that allows the circulation of crude oil, while a mixture of fuel (methane) and oxygen is burned in order to provide the heat. The paper presents the results of designing and developing a heat exchanger and furnace in a virtual environment in order to represent the preheating process of crude oil that is installed before the distillation tower, as well as mathematical modeling with Laplace transform and Padé approximant to include the delay factor in each thermal process for its further conversion to discrete time by using finite difference method to finally implement discrete PID controllers. The virtual design has been implemented using Solidworks® 2017SP1.0 along with Unity® 5.6.3 and the control strategies have been implemented in the Matlab 2016a® computational tool to send the control signals by TCP/IP connection to the virtual model in Unity©. The most significant contribution of this work is focused on programming the process of preheating the oil, before taking it to the distillation process in a virtual environment, in order to put into practice the design of different control architectures without using real equipment.
Copyright © 2018 Praise Worthy Prize - All rights reserved.


Virtual Laboratory; Unity; Thermal System; Padé Approximant; Heat Exchanger; Industrial Furnace

Full Text:



Makhmudova, L., Moiseyev, I., Akhmadova, K., Khadisova, Z., Abdulmezhidova, Z., Musaeva, M., Takaeva, M., Alternative Methods for Manufacturing and Processing Diesel Fuel with Magnetic and Ultrasound Fields, (2017) International Review on Modelling and Simulations (IREMOS), 10 (6), pp. 455-464.

Bukhtoyarov, V., Tynchenko, V., Petrovskiy, E., Tynchenko, V., Zhukov, V., Improvement of the Methodology for Determining Reliability Indicators of Oil and Gas Equipment, (2018) International Review on Modelling and Simulations (IREMOS), 11 (1), pp. 37-50.

Y. Liu, H. Zhou, and L. Liu, Firefighting Emergency Capability Evaluation on Crude Oil Tank Farm, in Procedia Engineering, 2018, vol. 211, pp. 506–513.

N. Zenati and N. Zerhouni, Augmented Reality as a Design Tool for Maintenance Applications, Int. J. Comput. Commun. Networks, Comput. Intell. Data Anal., vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 58–67, Oct. 2017.

A. Cardoso, V. Sousa, and P. Gil, Demonstration of a remote control laboratory to support teaching in control engineering subjects, IFAC-PapersOnLine, vol. 49, no. 6, pp. 226–229, 2016.

V. Potkonjak, M. Gardner, V. Callaghan, P. Mattila, C. Guetl, V. M. Petrović, and K. Jovanović, Virtual laboratories for education in science, technology, and engineering: A review, Comput. Educ., vol. 95, pp. 309–327, 2016.

Luostarinen, L., Handroos, H., Using Simulation in Virtual Reality Environment to Find Effects of Human Operators on the Life-Cycle Efficiency of Off-Highway Working Vehicles, (2013) International Review on Modelling and Simulations (IREMOS), 6 (5), pp. 1629-1636.

Ramos, O., Castillo, D., Virtual Environment for Arthroscopic Surgery with 3D Immersion System, (2015) International Review of Mechanical Engineering (IREME), 9 (5), pp. 450-456.

J. A. Ortega Moody, R. E. Sanchez Alonso, J. J. Gonzalez Barbosa, and G. Reyes Morales, Virtual Laboratories for Training in Industrial Robotics, IEEE Lat. Am. Trans., vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 665–672, 2016.

M. Macías and A. Izaguirre, Virtual Reality Machines to Improve Training in Automation, in Eleventh LACCEI Latin American and Caribbean Conference for Engineering and Technology, 2013, p. 10.

G. Quesnel, R. Duboz, and É. Ramat, The Virtual Laboratory Environment - An operational framework for multi-modelling, simulation and analysis of complex dynamical systems, Simul. Model. Pract. Theory, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 641–653, 2009.

Z. C. Z. Ton de Jong, Marcia C. Linn, Physical and Virtual Laboratories in Science and Engineering Education, Sci. AAAS, vol. 340, no. April, pp. 305–308, 2013.

J. Mora and D. Amaya, Virtual Laboratory of Bottling Process with Temperature Control in an Autoclave, Int. J. Softw. Eng. Its Appl., vol. 9, no. 9, pp. 127–136, 2015.

Montonen, J., Nokka, J., Pyrhönen, J., Virtual Wheel Loader Simulation – Defining the Performance of Drive-Train Components, (2016) International Review on Modelling and Simulations (IREMOS), 9 (3), pp. 208-216.

R. Heradio, L. de la Torre, D. Galan, F. J. Cabrerizo, E. Herrera-Viedma, and S. Dormido, Virtual and remote labs in education: A bibliometric analysis, Comput. Educ., vol. 98, pp. 14–38, Jul. 2016.

B. Balamuralithara and P. C. Woods, Virtual laboratories in engineering education: the simulation lab and remote lab, Comput. Appl. Eng. Educ., vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 108–118, 2009.

G. Carnevali and G. Buttazzo, A virtual laboratory environment for real-time experiments, Intell. Components Instruments Control Appl. 2003, no. Sicica, pp. 31–36, 2003.

F. A. C. Herias, F. Torres, F. A. Candelas, S. T. Puente, J. Pomares, P. Gil, and F. G. Ortiz, Experiences with Virtual Environment and Remote Laboratory for Teaching and Learning Robotics at the University of Alicante, Int. J. Engng Ed., Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 766-776, 2006

N. Navarathna, Online Remote Labs, 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 15-Mar-2018].

SUPPRESS, Automatic remote laboratory, 2008. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 15-Mar-2018].

S. Kakac, Heat Exchangers: Selection,Rating and Thermal Design, Third Edit. Boca Raton, Florida.: Taylor and Francis, 2012.

Jha, R., Haribhakta, V., Kolte, A., Shekhadar, S., Tengale, S., Tare, S., Design and Simulation of Condensing Heat Exchanger, (2017) International Review of Mechanical Engineering (IREME), 11 (7), pp. 473-480.

Yousefi, M., Yousefi, M., Khaksar, W., B. Ismail Alnaimi, F., Nordin Darus, A., A Comprehensive Review on the Application of Evolutionary Computation in Design Optimization of Plate-Fin Heat Exchangers, (2015) International Review of Mechanical Engineering (IREME), 9 (1), pp. 81-89.

Chandratre, V., Keste, A., Sane, N., Heat Transfer Augmentation in Heat Exchanger by Passive Techniques: a Review, (2017) International Review of Mechanical Engineering (IREME), 11 (9), pp. 635-643.

ECOPETROL, Specifications of Castilla Blend crude oil, Bogota, 2008.

L. Bitschnau and M. Kozek, Modeling and control of an industrial continuous furnace, in CSSim 2009 - 1st International Conference on Computational Intelligence, Modelling, and Simulation, 2009, pp. 231–236.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Please send any question about this web site to
Copyright © 2005-2024 Praise Worthy Prize