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Research Area 5: Full-scale validation and demonstration at a pilot plant

A core element and distinguishing feature of this project is that we will validate our solutions in an environment that is very similar to industrial conditions but enables the exploration of the various elements of optimization-based control schemes, from the numerical algorithms to the user interface under well-defined conditions. We will perform modeling and control of a challenging real process in pilot scale and equip it with industrial control hardware and the newly developed user interfaces, and perform control experiments with operators with different qualification levels.

For experimental validation, we have chosen a reactive distillation process with product changeover of the target product. The group of Prof. Andrzej Górak at TU Dortmund has been developing catalytic distillation processes for a number of products where a distinct improvement in conversion over reactors can be achieved. The group of the PI and the group of Prof. Górak collaborated in the past on the modeling and control of the heterogeneously catalyzed esterification of methanol with acetic acid (Fernholz at al. (2002) , Völker et al. (2007) ). The application of reactive distillation in cases of systems with multiple main reactions and multiple desired products has an additional potential for the intensification of chemical production processes. The goal is to control the selectivity of a desired product by changing the process conditions.