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Turn the power plants up and down

Since December 2007, CISS PhD student Piotr Niemczyk has been working on a project at DONG Energy. The aim is to find a way of turning the inflow of coal for the Danish CHP plants up and down - and thus enable them to adapt their output to the consumption at any given time. The project fully illustrates the unique quality of CISS' interdisciplinary work: supervisors of the project are professor Anders Peter Ravn, the Department of Computer Science, and associate professor Jan Dimon Bendtsen, the Department of Electronic Systems.


"The core of the project is controlling groups of coal mills in power plants," Jan Dimon Bendtsen explains. "Today, we only have a limited amount of control over how much coal is put into the power plants - and thus also only limited control over how much electricity and heat they produce. The power plants need to take into account how much energy is produced by windmills - in other words, how windy it is - and the level of future consumption. This means that we need to find the best possible way of achieving the right amount of electricity and heat. In practice, we are working on developing a strategy for DONG in the shape of a set of rules that they can build into a computer which can then control the coal mills in a more automatised and hopefully better way that what is done today."


From model to regulator


In the time since the launch of the project, Piotr Niemczyk has been working on gathering data about the coal mills from DONG. Following this, he will be developing a dynamic model of the coal mills, which then will form the basis of the development of a regulator in the shape of a system capable of balancing the coal mill and enable it to adapt output to need. Finally, he will use the regulator as the basis for a strategy that DONG can use for controlling several interacting coal mills in a CHP plant.


Perfect combination of competences


The combination of competences is exactly right, Jan Dimon Bendtsen says. "Anders Peter Ravn contributes with computer-science competences such as game theory; DONG's employees contribute with their knowledge of power plant engineering, and I can use my knowlege of regulation technology and more physical theories about the processes," he explains. "Anders, Piotr and I bring in our methodological knowledge and approach, and DONG's employees - who both, by the way, are PhD graduates from Aalborg University - have the necessary insight into the reality of the industry. This means that we are continually learning from each other," he adds.


So far, the project runs according to plan, and if this continues, it will only be a few years until CISS and DONG will be ready with a system that controls the coal mills and thus both give cost savings to the consumers and benefit the environment through reduction of CO2 emissions.







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