Progea supports Enerclean Project

  • November 23, 2015
  • Case Study

November 2015 - PROGEA was chosen to collaborate in the technology innovation project called Enerclean, coordinated by the Department of science and engineering, University of Modena and Reggio.

The project involves the production of clean energy and hydrogen through the natural process of combustion of aluminum powder on contact with water. The goal is to get a high efficiency energy system and near zero environmental impact.

In fact, according to this project, you can use raw aluminum and water to produce steam, which drives a turbine, and the waste product is made up of hydrogen and alumina. The first is stored for stations of vehicles powered by hydrogen (Fuel Cell), the second is fully recyclable to produce new aluminum.

In essence, the project involves the construction of an energy system based on the use of the products and by-products of the combustion of a solid fuel in water-saturated environment that is able to achieve integrated and simultaneous generation of four secondary energy sources, giving rise to an application classified as Hydrogen and Steam Combined Heat Power (CHHSP) completely.

The project, still experimental, gave the desired results, and the system prototype was successfully completed. The Group of participating companies, coordinated by Prof. Milani, received a specific development objective, skills, know-how and market technologies. The main components of the system are a milling machine that provides continuous power cycle, producing Aluminum powder through special cutters that when properly managed produce the fine dust needed to fuel the combustion chamber. In the chamber pressure is injected into the water, where combustion occurs and produces the steam needed to power a 4 MW turbine. The whole system of boiler management process is automated by PLC control modular. Finally, there is the waste recovery system, consisting of hydrogen storage system for a Fuel Cell systems, and Alumina powder, meant to total recovery for aluminum producers.

Atmospheric emissions are then equal to zero because the process produces only steam.

All subsystems are connected to each other through the standard OPC UA communication, the only one able to guarantee the necessary technology to a new system like the one created, and able to be the "standard" official in different systems as part of a single process.

In fact, it was necessary that the various partners used components that can communicate at all levels with maximum transparency, performance and safety. For this reason, the choice fell on the OPC UA technology.

The Department needed a modern supervisory system, OPC UA based and able to satisfy any specific requirement, each time adapting to the changes that an experimental project.

They directly involved Progea, and Application Platform .NExT technology, a next-generation platform based on OPC UA.

The management system allows local and remote control of the production process of aluminum powder, storage, combustion, turbine and alternator, hydrogen storage and alumina products.

The supervisor then provides redundant servers for data acquisition from three different subsystems:

1.   Powder feed system

2.   Boiler and turbine

3.   Hydrogen Storage and Alumina Recovery

All systems were made by their respective companies, project partners who have used their know-how to achieve the goal. Control systems were adopted respectively those of BOSCH Rexroth and powders, power cutters to Beckhoff TwinCAT TC1000 for boiler, turbine and storage and retrieval systems, for a total of  10 connected PLC.

All subsystems are communicating through the centralized supervision system, and all are connected via OPC UA.

·         CNC Milling Dust Control

·         Plc1 = boiler Inputs

·         PLC2 = boiler Outputs

·         Plc3 = cistern and solids separator

·         Plc4 = exit gas Separator

·         PLC 5 = hydrogen Storage

·         Plc6 = turbine Contour

·         PLC7 = hot pit Contour

·         Plc8 = Outline getter

·         PLC9 = separator, liquid outlet

·         PLC10 = cooling system

The Central attendant is based on Client/Server architecture. The server is connected as a Client local control stations, which serve as the OPC Server. The dedicated OPC UA Platform connector .NExT allows connectivity between supervision and local OPC servers, integrated directly into the PLC.

The supervisor then acquires as a Central Server in real time, all functional parameters, representing the subsystems through the numerous pages that represent the synoptic system. The Central attendant acquires more than 8,000 analog variables (Tags), distributed in various systems of local control. In addition, there are about 2,000 digital alarms that provide a detailed system Diagnostics.

Locally there is a Client station supervisor, then as OPC Client connected to the central server. All communication in the field takes place solely via OPC UA supported by Platform .NExT.

Essential for the development of the experimental system, monitoring, recording and analysis of all sensitive data, such as pressure, flow rates, temperatures, humidity levels, etc. is recorded in a SQL Server database system allowing an accurate analysis of the functional parameters necessary for engineers of the Department of science and engineering for the development of the prototype system. In this powerful, historical analysis and functional integrated reporting led to a fundamental analysis working model.

In addition, the central supervision system is web-based connecting remote stations, via HTML5, web access to the system in full safety.

"We needed a system that could connect the own data at any level," says prof. Milani. "That's why we focused on the OPC UA standard, able to be managed either by control devices and telemetry systems and supervision, and in the future for any further level integrated systems, such as SAP systems used by the operators. "

The prototype system was put into operation, and the first results were very positive. Obviously the system must be perfected to be industrialized, but the conceptual idea, combined with a future drive systems oriented hydrogen should offer good prospects for development. In fact, at the same time producing thermoelectric energy and hydrogen, so clean and virtually no waste or polluting emissions might be the way of the future.

The combustion system is based on aluminum and water, renewable fuels and products with no risk (for example, compared to traditional systems based on gas, petroleum, uranium). The process is also nonpolluting because it does not produce CO2 (zero emission) and waste products are: hydrogen and alumina, both totally recovered for industrial uses. The hydrogen is stored is expected to supply fuel cells for cars, while alumina is a mineral often used in industry, and currently produced for the market using the so-called "Bayer method”.

Currently the project is still in the experimental stage, but the conditions for its industrialization are very good.

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