278125 Developing an Operator Training Simulator As a Class Project in a Simulation Course

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 3:53 PM
329 (Convention Center )
Richard Turton, Department of Chemical Engg., West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV

An operator training simulator (OTS) is to the chemical engineer what a flight simulator is to the aerospace engineer.  The basis of an OTS is a dynamic model of a chemical process that allows an engineer to simulate the start-up, shut-down, and normal operation of a chemical process.  It can also be used to test the skill of an engineer or operator to respond and control unforeseen situations through the use of programmed malfunctions. 

The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the author’s experience in teaching a course in chemical process simulation for the first time. A brief summary of the course content, which includes basic information and examples of steady state and dynamic simulations, will be given.  The guided development of a steady state and dynamic simulation for a depropanizer column, used during the first 8-10 weeks of the course, was a key element in the pedagogy used in teaching the course and a discussion of student progress made through structured problem sets will be discussed. 

In order to gain experience with a state-of-the-art OTS, students spent approximately 6 hours of training on the Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant OTS that is the cornerstone of the AVESTAR (Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training And Research) Center with sister facilities at DOE/NETL, Morgantown and WVU.   During this training, students followed a set of highly detailed start-up procedures that were required to start-up the Claus sulfur capture process within the IGCC plant.

The final projects in the course required student groups (one group of undergraduates and one group of graduates) to develop dynamic models of two chemical processes (a dimethyl ether plant for the group of undergraduates and a toluene hydrodealkylation plant for the group of graduate students) and to write a detailed procedure for the start-up of each process.  The scope and success of this final project and a summary of students’ impressions of the course and suggested improvements will be given.

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