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Publication# Advanced Power Plant Design Methodology using Process Integration and Multi-Objective Thermo-Economic Optimisation

Abstract

Thermo-economic modelling techniques are well known techniques to optimise power plant designs. These methods are usually based on the definition of a superstructure that includes the major options of the design. If this approach has proved to be appropriate for the optimisation of several conventional NGCC (Natural Gas Combined Cycles), it reveals some weaknesses when dealing with particularly complex systems where heat integration leads to a lot of possible heat exchange configuration. This is for example the case in advanced cycles in zero emission plants where numerous heat exchanges between the gas turbines, the steam network and the CO2 capture units can be considered. In this situation, the superstructure approach is not anymore practical and new modelling techniques are needed. In this paper, we present a new modelling technique developed to be used in the context of a multi-objective optimisation framework. This method uses a thermodynamic model of the energy flows of the energy conversion units. The results of the model allow the calculation of the hot and cold streams to be considered in the heat exchanger network. A heat cascade model using the ?Tmin concept is used to compute the optimal integration of the heat exchange in order to maximise the energy conversion. In this model, a special steam cycle model has been developed to represent all the possible heat exchange interactions and to compute the optimal flowrates in the system with a minimum of structural information. The third part of the model is the thermo-economic estimation of the system cost to deduce the performances of the system. An optimisation method, based on a multi- objective evolutionary algorithm is then used to identify the most important system configurations. The method is illustrated on an AZEP (Advanced Zero Emission Plant) combined cycle design.

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In the present context of finding ways to decrease CO2 emissions linked with human activity, district energy systems including polygeneration energy conversion technologies are likely to play a major role. District energy systems meet the heating, hot water, cooling and electricity requirements of a district. Because they meet several types of energy requirements, and for more than one single building, district energy systems represent good opportunities to implement polygeneration energy conversion technologies. Polygeneration energy conversion technologies indeed provide different energy services simultaneously, helping to decrease the CO2 intensity compared to energy conversion technologies that meet only one energy service. Moreover, when providing energy to a whole district, polygeneration energy conversion technologies can take advantage of the various load profiles of the buildings by compensating the fluctuations and having therefore a smoother operation. A district energy system comprises essentially two parts: the plant with the polygeneration energy conversion technologies, and the distribution networks (heating and cooling). When designing the energy system for a district, one has therefore to define which type of polygeneration energy conversion technologies are best suited for the district, as well as which building are worse connecting to the system and which buildings shouldn't be connected (for instance if they are located too far away from the other buildings or if they have too small requirements to justify a connection from the plant). Moreover the operation strategy needs to be defined. In the present thesis, a method is developed that helps designing and optimizing district energy systems, from the structuring of the information available for the district (energy consumption profiles, location of the buildings, available energy sources, possible layouts for the pipes,...), over the thermo-economic modelling of the energy conversion technologies, the design of the network and the simulation of its operation strategy, and finally the evaluation of the results in terms of CO2 emissions and costs. The design and optimization of the district energy system is a multi-objective Mixed Integer Non Linear Programming problem. To solve this problem, a decomposition strategy including a master and a slave problem was developed. The master optimization problem takes care of the energy conversion technologies, whereas the slave optimization problem optimizes the network part. The two sub-problems are solved iteratively and result in the definition of a Pareto optimal curve that gives the trade-offs between the emissions and the costs for various configurations satisfying the requirements of the district. A configuration is characterized by given types and sizes of energy conversion technologies, their location in the district, the network layout, as well as the operation strategy of the technologies. Due to the time dependent energy consumption profiles and the geographical location of the buildings and plant, the method developed combines two well known types of problems, namely the multi-period optimization problems and the network problems. The method developed allows to take into account various constraints such as limited availability of energy sources, forbidden connections between buildings (for instance if a large river separates these two buildings), or else space limitations in underground technical channels. The capabilities of the method are demonstrated by means of a test case, as well as a real case in the Canton of Geneva. The results show the importance of considering all the energy services together (and not separately). Energy systems including a gas engine or a gas turbine combined cycle, together with heat pumps, indeed help decreasing both the emissions and the costs compared to the actual configurations. In the Geneva case study for instance, emissions can be decreased by up to 45%, with a simultaneous costs reduction of 24%. However, the method only deals with water networks, while in some cases space limitations and safety issues make the use of water impossible. A new type of district energy system based on CO2 as energy transfer medium (instead of water), is therefore developed in order to take such issues into account. This new system, that led to the submission of a patent, meets all the different types of energy requirements with only two pipes (instead of three or four like in conventional water based system), and uses the latent heat of CO2 as driving force, instead of the specific heat.

François Maréchal, Laurence Tock

Within the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supplying sustainable energy, complex integrated energy conversion systems have to be designed by taking into account thermodynamic, economic and environmental considerations simultaneously. The process performance highly depends on the quality of the process integration and on the energy conversion, in particular, on how the heat requirements are balanced and how the combined heat and power generation is integrated. In chemical processes, the heat requirements after heat recovery are typically satisfied by the energy conversion system, while for fuel and electricity producing processes, the requirements are balanced by waste and process streams available on-site. The optimal internal heat recovery and utility integration can be computed by applying heat cascade models that are solved by using mathematical programming techniques. The mass and energy balances of the process unit operations are therefore satisfied by the optimal energy conversion system integration without having to explicitly model the heat exchanger network. The presented thermo-economic optimization approach combines flowsheeting and process integration techniques with economic evaluation and life-cycle assessment in a multi-objective optimization framework. The advantage of including the process integration model in the design process is that the influence of the process design and operation is reflected on the thermo-environomic performance of an energy balanced system in which the heat supplied from energy resources is integrated. The methodology has been successfully applied to study CO2 capture concepts in power plants using natural gas, coal or biomass resources, to analyse thermo-chemical H2 production processes and to evaluate different biofuel processes producing Fischer-Tropsch fuel, methanol, dimethylether and H2 by biomass gasification. The potential performance improvement through process integration is revealed for each case. In particular, it is highlighted how the optimization of the combined cycle valorizing the excess heat and of heat pumping options improve the process efficiency by simultaneously maximizing the combined production of fuel, captured CO2, heat and power. This shows that this computer-aided process design strategy combining flowsheeting, energy integration, cost assessment and multi-objective optimization is a powerful tool to systematically generate different process options, assess trade-offs and reveal process improvements through process integration.

2013This work presents a synthesis method that leads to the preliminary design of industrial energy systems. Such systems are composed of several technologies that transform, through a set of physical unit operations, raw materials and energy into products and energy services. The purpose of the preliminary synthesis is to define which technologies form the system, to calculate their technical characteristics, their operating conditions and their interactions, based on performance indicators such as for example the cost of the system or its environmental impact. This area is studied since a long time and many synthesis approaches are available. However, these methods have significant limitations, particularly in their ability to face the study of more and more complex systems. The main goal of the method presented in this work is to enable the study of large systems and promote the use of the experience gained from previous studies in the form of models and methodological approaches. The synthesis method of industrial energy systems is based on the overall system optimization using a model that is obtained by assembling several modules, representing each a set of physical unit operations and whose equations are formulated with the black box technique, and an integration model that can represent the possible interactions within the system. Optimization is performed using a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm, whose objective functions are defined on the basis of calculation of several performance indicators based on the model of the system. To simplify the resolution of this complex system, the optimization problem is decomposed into a master problem, responsible for calculating the characteristics of the units and their operating conditions, and an optimization slave subproblem, which selects the units being part of the system and their interconnections. To ensure its robustness, the slave subproblem is formulated as a mixed-integer linear optimization problem. The slave subproblem is formulated by using process integration techniques, which are extended in this work to allow the synthesis of multiple heat and mass transfer networks. The synthesis problem can thus be defined using an explicit superstructure or by one generated automatically, either implicit or explicit. This work also introduces a technique that greatly reduces the number of degrees of freedom of the integration model. Instead of separately optimizing each ΔTmin/2 associated with heat streams, a formula is applied to calculate their value from a reference case. The ΔTmin/2 optimization is thus reduced to the optimization of a single decision variable related to the reference case, regardless of the size of the problem. The proposed method uses a set of heterogeneous elements, including flowsheeting software for modeling physical unit operations, mathematical programming tools for the formulation of the integration problem, methods for calculating performance indicators and calculation tools such as the optimization algorithm. This work introduces new tools developed to systematically apply the proposed methodology and to automate recurring operations of data transfer and the call of the various used software. In particular, a syntax description is defined as an abstraction layer to describe and to structure the exchanged information. A computing platform has been created to support the application of the method and to ensure the data transfer between its components. Two case studies are presented to illustrate the various aspects of the synthesis method. A first case, involving the synthesis of two combined cycles, has been chosen to illustrate the different application stages of the method and to show the potential reuse of certain modules. Through the integration techniques, it has been possible to identify potential heat recovery that can increase the performance of one of the cycles beyond what had been expected by experts using conventional simulation techniques. The second case study is about the treatment of waste generated by an industrial site active in the field of fine chemicals. Waste treatment can recover different materials and energy services useful for process units, thereby reducing the quantities purchased in the market. The model of multi-network integration can easily solve the complexity of the problem of waste management in developing strategies for allocating waste to the various treatments available for different objective functions related to operating costs and environmental impact.