What does a Bioenergy Control System expert or consultant do? First, let’s define Control Systems. Control Systems refers to the system in a process plant that consists of devices to measure properties of the plant feedstocks or products and that then takes an action to control the property. An example would be temperature control of a liquid. A thermocouple or RTD would measure the temperature and if the temperature is too low the control system would take an action such as opening a valve to allow more heating to be directed to the liquid to bring its temperature up. If the temperature is too high the opposite action would be taken to reduce heat input to the liquid. In a plant such as a biomass power plant or an ethanol plant there are numerous such loops that control different properties and combined these constitute the plant control system. The control system will open and close valves, start and stop motors, and take other actions required to keep the process operating within its designed operating parameters.
Control systems can be simple, from an open loop system where it is up to an operator to take the corrective action, all the way to highly sophisticated systems that have a high degree of intelligence built into them and are able to optimize many variables to produce the optimum result for multiple product streams. Today’s control systems are generally highly complex systems that are run by specialized computers. These computers have names such as distributed control system (DCS) or Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and the operator interacts with these computers through Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) which are usually graphical software running on a computer.
A Bioenergy Control Systems expert is normally someone who has a degree in Electrical, Mechanical, or Chemical Engineering and with specific experience applying control system technology to batch or continuous industrial processes. While there are many control systems experts in a variety of different industries, a Bioenergy Control System expert will have specific experience in applying control system technology to the bioenergy process whether that is biofuels production, anaerobic digestion, biomass power production, or some other aspect of bioenergy production.
The Bioenergy Control System expert may assist clients in developing and selecting a control system for a new plant, reviewing the state of control system in an existing plant, optimizing the control of a process in an existing plant, or upgrading obsolete control methods to modern control. During design, the Bioenergy Control System expert would work with the Process, Mechanical, and Electrical engineering teams to develop the control system design. This means reviewing the Process Flow Diagrams (PFD) and from them creating Process and Instrument Diagrams (P&ID), specifying instrumentation, specifying the control system hardware and communications systems, creating detailed wiring and loop diagrams, developing the control system programming and the operator interface graphics, and work closely with the operations people to make sure that the system being designed will meet their needs. During construction, the Bioenergy Control System expert might assist with construction oversight of the facility and provide construction completion reports. During commissioning and start-up, the Bioenergy Control Systems expert will be an integral part of the team that gets the plant or new process up and running. They may also provide operator training and on-going support to assist in making the facilities run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. In matters involving litigation, the consultant may serve as an expert witness and assist the attorneys with understanding the processes and related technical issues and may testify in court about control systems technology, economics and related matters.
At Lee Enterprises Consulting, we have a number of highly qualified Bioenergy Control Systems experts available to assist you with any related matters. Feel free to call or email us for more information.