Nuclear Waste Sludge Management; MPC References

Readers Wonder What is the Best Hardware to Use When Remotly Handling Nuclear Waste. Do You Know of Any Multivariable Predictive Control Books?

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I have found some sources of information, but they are not practical to carry out an application in the real world. That is why I am looking for some literature that could be classified as "MPC for Mortals," that is, not for scientists with PhDs, etc., but something understandable by the guys that implement process control and operate the plants.

Marcos Francisco Moreno Molina
marcos_moreno@penoles.com.mx

A: The 3rd Volume of the Instrument Engineers' Handbook (IEH) discusses modeling and model-based control in chapters 5.1 and 5.2. This volume was published in 2000, and since that date much experience has been gained through a wide range of industrial applications. As the new editions of the IEH are published once in a decade, the 4th edition will be published in 2011 and will contain much more information than did the 3rd edition.

As to the emphasis on theory versus engineering application, you will find that all three volumes are written for the practicing engineers and not for academia, so you might find the treatment of MPC suited for your needs.

Béla Lipták

A: I wrote Chapter 13 on "Advanced Control" in the ISA book, A Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge, and Chapter 4 on "Model Predictive Control" in the ISA book, New Directions in Bioprocess Modeling and Control. I tried to make the discussions of model predictive control as simple as possible.

Greg McMillan
Greg.McMillan@emerson.com

A: First of all, make sure that MPC is a technology that is suitable for your needs, because MPC can be very elusive in its application.

Secondly, there's no magic: MPC can't do anything about stabilizing a plant with oscillatory behavior, especially when it's caused by defective field instrumentation.

There are several vendors who can provide you with the the technology. The difference in the quality of their advice will come from the experience of their in-house people.

If you've done your homework with the regulatory loops, the best book I ever found on the subject is Predictive Control with Constraints by Jan Maciejowski. It needs Matlab and the MPC module programs available off the book's website. Another is Model Predictive Control by Eduardo Fernandez Camacho and Carlos Bordons Alba. It also needs the Matlab program available off the book's website.

Mathematics, yes. No short cuts, no free lunch.

If you're only interested in the 30,000-ft view, then there are multiple websites (and millions of papers) available on the Internet with a description that may suit your current needs. Hope this helps.

Sigifredo NINO
sigifredo.nino@invensys.com

A: I think it's probably too much to expect that one can come up to speed on the practice of MPC solely from reading and study, but I agree it can be difficult getting practical information. Here are some suggestions.

  1. The website www.apc-network.com has many articles on MPC and also on other technologies such as real-time optimization, soft sensors, etc. Anyone can register at this website.
  2. I think the following books are worth a look: Process Control (McGraw Hill) by Thomas E. Marlin, which gives a nice introduction to MPC. Another book containing a readable introduction is Techniques of Model-Based Control by Coleman Brosilow and Babu Joseph (Prentice Hall).
  3. I also wrote a paper and gave the presentation at last year's ADCHEM conference. The goal was to cover the current practice of MPC, associated challenges, and show where improvements are needed.

Mark L. Darby, PhD, PE
darbymark@sbcglobal.net

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