(229c) Incorporation of An Industrial Distributed Control System in the Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory
The field of Process Control in the chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries has entered a new stage marked by enormous advances in computers and instrumentation. In order to respond to the new reality and to better prepare our graduates for industry, we are revising the process control component in the Chemical Engineering curriculum at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The backbone of the new process control experience is an industrial distributed control system (DCS), namely DeltaV by Emerson. This presentation describes the deployment and the incorporation of the DCS in the undergraduate Unit Operations (UO) laboratory. The Unit Operations laboratory in the Chemical Engineering curricula is well recognized for its educational value. The UO laboratory is often the only place where exposure to industrial practice and new technologies occur within the typical four-year engineering curriculum. This is especially relevant in the process control area, where the gap between classroom-based training and the real world is a core issue. One of the major goals of the redesigned process control experience in the Chemical Engineering curriculum at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is to expose all chemical engineering students to industrial-grade process instrumentation, control system architecture, and control and tuning algorithms beyond PID and Ziegler-Nichols. Another goal is to introduce students to the industrial practices of data storage, management, retrieval and mining. The UO laboratory in the Chemical Engineering department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has over a dozen pilot-scale process units (skids), such as heat exchangers, pumps, distillation columns, chemical reactors filtration units and fermentors. Most of them have been designed for manual operation and had only local gauges. Over the past two years six of the existing experiments have been re-designed and converted to run under the DCS. Each of the redesigned UO skid is treated as a plant area and is functionally isolated from the others. Students can control the experiments and access the data historian through operator stations in a centralized control room or through remote operator stations located in close proximity to each experiment. Closed circuit TV cameras monitor critical process areas and are accessible through the school network. The new environment in the UO laboratory is very similar to the environment in a typical chemical, petrochemical or pharmaceutical plant. Students learn how to maintain their process under control, take the process safely from one operating condition to another, collect and analyze data using a historian, respond to process alarms and remotely troubleshoot their experiments using limited process information. The DCS incorporation in the UO laboratory was accomplished in close collaboration with industrial partners who provided significant financial and technical support. The re-design of the experiments and the documentation associated with it followed the best industrial practices. Most of the configuration, commissioning and troubleshooting work was performed by the undergraduate students as part of special project-based courses.