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