Measurement Technology and Process Control (MEPC)
The research area focuses not only on development of measurement, control, and automation solutions for industrial processes but also on rising areas such as biomeasurement, image based measurements, and measurements and exploitation of nanoscale phenomena. The main activities are in the field of modelling, identification, simulation, design, diagnostics and control of dynamic processes, sensor technology and image processing.
Research focuses on industrial processes and machines and include: modelling, control and monitoring of biomass boilers and power plants; modelling and control of metallurgic and mining processes; model based process design of mechanical pulping; performance enhancement of harvesters; and fast system identification in measurements of impedances of switched-mode power converters.
The topics of the process automation research group are dynamic modeling, simulation, diagnostics and control design. The tasks of the research projects vary from the dynamic analysis of industrial processes to the design of advanced model based control applications.
In the development of process control of energy and forest based industries the department has been the leading national and important international partner for major companies since the beginning of seventies.
The energy production is an established industry in Finland that has a long collaboration tradition with ASE. Since 80’ the ASE’s contribution has been remarkable, for example, in the control development of biomass fired boilers and industrial power plants. Currently, the research scope is on the dynamic modelling of modern boilers and the performance monitoring of industrial plants.
Since 1991, a system theoretical analytical approach has been applied at ASE into the field of mechanical pulping which at that time was quite empirical. The work continues with the large companies in the Finnish forest cluster, the main research centers and universities.
Recently, the modelling and control competencies of ASE have also been applied in the field of the rapidly increasing minerals processing and mining industry. The research is done in close collaboration with a Finnish company that provides excellent facilities for experimenting with rock crushers (see Fig. 1).
Figure 1. The rock crusher test facilities.
Also in the future the department has a significant collaborative role with the Finnish and international companies. While the companies face new environmental and competitive challenges the department provides solutions by the system theoretic approaches to all levels of operations; from the supply chain management to the unit process control, from the design of new processes to the optimization of large production plants.
In the resent research projects the developed fast system identification methods have been applied in the measurements of living cells, in the measurements of impadances of switched-mode power converters and the fault diagnosis of laboratory scale headbox.
Figure 2. Switched-mode power converter measurement setup.
Figure 3. Cell impedance measurement capillary.
The Principal Component Analysis is applied in analysis of Scandinavian electricity market. The analysis revealed main correlations between coal market, hydrology, CO2 emission markets and trading prices in Nordpool energy market.
Figure 4. Principal component analysis of electricity market.
The department has a semi-industrial scale binary distillation column. The liquid used is ethanol-water. The total height of the column is 4 meters, diameter is 30 cm and there are 12 trays. The ethanol concentration of the feed is about 30 % and the feed flow is 1 – 4 l/min. There are 7 control loops using control valves. The automation system is MetsoDNA and which is implemented in a normal PC.
Figure 5. The binary distillation colon.
The area includes research and development of intelligent new applications of image capturing, image processing and image analysis. Our developed photometric stereo methods have so far been applied for 3D surface reconstruction to characterize paper, cardboard and tissue surfaces. Imaging from autonomic air vehicles has been used to achieve high resolution forest images for forest management planning.
The industrial partners’ areas are mostly from the fields of energy production, forestry and paper manufacturing, mining and minerals processing, point-of-care diagnostics, and healthcare technology. The research attempts to support industries to develop new solutions with advanced cost structures and business models.
Research Area Coordinator, Measurement Technology and Process Control
Professor, Process Automation
Team Leader, Image-based Measurements