Modeling, simulation and control of dimethyl ether synthesis in an industrial fixed-bed reactor

M. Farsi, R. Eslamloueyan, A. Jahanmiri
Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification Volume 50, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 85-94


Dimethyl ether (DME) as a clean fuel has attracted the interest of many researchers from both industrial communities and academia. The commercially proven process for large scale production of dimethyl ether consists of catalytic dehydration of methanol in an adiabatic fixed-bed reactor. In this study, the industrial reactor of DME synthesis with the accompanying feed preheater has been simulated and controlled in dynamic conditions. The proposed model, consisting of a set of algebraic and partial differential equations, is based on a heterogeneous one-dimensional unsteady state formulation. To verify the proposed model, the simulation results have been compared to available data from an industrial reactor at steady state conditions. A good agreement has been found between the simulation and plant data. A sensitivity analysis has been carried out to evaluate the influence of different possible disturbances on the process. Also, the controllability of the process has been investigated through dynamic simulation of the process under a conventional feedback PID controller. The responses of the system to disturbance and setpoint changes have shown that the control structure can maintain the process at the desired conditions with an appropriate dynamic behavior.

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