Wednesday 10 July 2013

Rectification plant!

Small-scale industrial rectification plant used in higher education

The Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture has installed a new rectification plant as an invaluable aid to students enrolled on its mechanical engineering course. The installation is a small-scale industrial plant, and has been equipped by Siemens with the Microbox version of its Simatic PCS 7. Students are now able to receive hands-on training at a real industrial plant controlled and monitored by an industrial-standard process control system.

The beautiful city of Lucerne
To enable students to gain a fundamental understanding of substance separation processes, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hochschule Luzern, CH) has replaced its previous small rectification column by a larger plant. The new downscaled industrial- standard plant allows the reproducible investigation and depiction of all the key process variables and their interdependencies during rectification, also known as multi-stage distillation.

The Microbox automation system Simatic PCS 7 AS RTX from the Siemens Industry Automation Division is an entry-level system suitable for small-scale and plant-level applications. Unlike a classical control system, the PCS 7 is installed on an industrial PC built into the control cabinet, in this case the Microbox PC 427C. This uses the Windows XP Embedded 2009 operating system. The control system communicates across Ethernet with the operator station, a desktop PC. Two ET200 remote I/O stations are connected to the sensors and actuators via a Profibus DP interface. Because of its educational function, the entire plant is configured behind glass, allowing students to observe and monitor the separation process.

During rectification, substance mixtures are separated into their components on the basis of their different boiling points. Multi-stage distillation or rectification is used in a large number of different processes, such as the production of bio fuels, the recovery of solvents, air separation and whisky distillery. Prola AG, an engineering company based in Emmenbrücke in Switzerland and Siemens Solution Partner worked on the electrical planning, project engineering and programming of the instrumentation and control technology used in the plant. A number of specific demands had to be taken into consideration, ranging from adherence to strict occupational safety standards and restrictive access for operators through to the database storage and evaluation of all relevant data.

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