Qiang Zhang

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

Richard Turton

Committee Co-Chair

Debangsu Bhattacharyya

Committee Member

Fernando V Lima

Committee Member

Jingxin Wang

Committee Member

Stephen E Zitney


This work focuses on the development of both steady-state and dynamic models for an monoethanolamine (MEA)-based CO2 capture process for a commercial-scale supercritical pulverized coal (PC) power plant, using Aspen PlusRTM and Aspen Plus DynamicsRTM. The dynamic model also facilitates the design of controllers for both traditional proportional-integral-derivative (PID) and advanced controllers, such as linear model predictive control (LMPC), nonlinear model predictive control (NMPC) and H? robust control.;A steady-state MEA-based CO2 capture process is developed in Aspen PlusRTM. The key process units, CO2 absorber and stripper columns, are simulated using the rate-based method. The steady-state simulation results are validated using experimental data from a CO2 capture pilot plant. The process parameters are optimized with the goal of minimizing the energy penalty. Subsequently, the optimized rate-based, steady-state model with appropriate modifications, such as the inclusion of the size and metal mass of the equipment, is exported into Aspen Plus DynamicsRTM to study transient characteristics and to design the control system. Since Aspen Plus DynamicsRTM does not support the rate-based model, modifications to the Murphree efficiencies in the columns and a rigorous pressure drop calculation method are implemented in the dynamic model to ensure consistency between the design and off-design results from the steady-state and dynamic models. The results from the steady-state model indicate that between three and six parallel trains of CO2 capture processes are required to capture 90% CO2 from a 550MWe supercritical PC plant depending on the maximum column diameter used and the approach to flooding at the design condition. However, in this work, only two parallel trains of CO2 capture process are modeled and integrated with a 550MWe post-combustion, supercritical PC plant in the dynamic simulation due to the high calculation expense of simulating more than two trains.;In the control studies, the performance of PID-based, LMPC-based, and NMPC-based approaches are evaluated for maintaining the overall CO2 capture rate and the CO2 stripper reboiler temperature at the desired level in the face of typical input and output disturbances in flue gas flow rate and composition as well as change in the power plant load and variable CO2 capture rate. Scenarios considered include cases using different efficiencies to mimic different conditions between parallel trains in real industrial processes. MPC-based approaches are found to provide superior performance compared to a PID-based one. Especially for parallel trains of CO2 capture processes, the advantage of MPC is observed as the overall extent of CO2 capture for the process is maintained by adjusting the extent of capture for each train based on the absorber efficiencies. The NMPC-based approach is preferred since the optimization problem that must be solved for model predictive control of CO2 capture process is highly nonlinear due to tight performance specifications, environmental and safety constraints, and inherent nonlinearity in the chemical process. In addition, model uncertainties are unavoidable in real industrial processes and can affect the plant performance. Therefore, a robust controller is designed for the CO2 capture process based on ?-synthesis with a DK-iteration algorithm. Effects of uncertainties due to measurement noise and model mismatches are evaluated for both the NMPC and robust controller. The simulation results show that the tradeoff between the fast tracking performance of the NMPC and the superior robust performance of the robust controller must be considered while designing the control system for the CO2 capture units. Different flooding control strategies for the situation when the flue gas flow rate increases are also covered in this work.