Aeration in a wastewater treatment plant can account for up to 50-60% of the energy consumed in the plant. When thinking about optimizing the “aeration” process to reduce energy consumption it is important to ensure that any measures taken also help to improve water quality, but don’t demand a complete change of the existing installation. This is where advanced process control (APC) comes in!
When we talk about APC, we are not just talking about simply supplying licences for software packages and commissioning the system. An APC project calls for close cooperation with the operation and maintenance personnel within a plant to fully assess the possible savings and ensure a water-tight business case is presented for the optimization project.
To do this… it’s best to start with an initial site audit, and a detailed analysis that delivers short and long term recommendations and action planning for the optimization of a plant – whether that be process optimization, energy optimization and so on.
The second step would be a more detailed audit of the system which captures energy and process data over a longer period (about two weeks). The data collected is analyzed and used for modelling the APC software. In addition, possible process interfaces are analyzed during this audit to ensure seamless integration of the APC software in the existing process automation system.
In the last step of the project the APC software is installed and commissioned on the system.
Now let’s have a closer look on my recommended APC tool. It should provide comprehensive model-based performance monitoring of critical plant assets, highlighting areas in which operators can focus and display advisory guides to help improve process efficiency.
The core elements of an APC software solution are “purpose-designed” to:
- Assess and validate incoming critical data
- Model the operation using historical metrics
- Predict plant behaviour under all conditions
The software should then include powerful tools to guide the operator towards a complete understanding of the causes of process abnormalities, and show how best to manage them. Plant-wide asset management becomes far more sophisticated and meaningful and can be performed in real-time.
The rewards of adopting a predictive system for fault detection, process diagnosis and plant optimization include:
- Reduced variability of plant operations through rapid detection and correction of disturbances
- Reduced cost of operation by predictive monitoring of plant performance
- Consistent and trustworthy monitoring of water quality
- Intelligent operation of one or multiple plants
Do you have some thoughts or experience with using an APC tool for optimization?