This paper presents a model predictive controller (MPC) to regulate temperature inside a tubular solar reactor for production of solid-state solar fuel as a long-term thermal storage. The reactor tube is surrounded with heating elements over a portion of its length defined as the heating zone where the reaction occurs. Inert particles enter the reactor from its top-end and they flow downward due to gravity. Simultaneously, a counter-current flowing gas is supplied from the lower end of the reactor to recuperate the sensible heat and mix with the inert particles. The solar fuel is produced via a thermochemical reaction that occurs at a temperature range between 1000°C and 1500°C. This system is analyzed numerically to formulate a low-order physical model considering heat transfer modes and the reaction kinetics. The numerical model is implemented to design a model-based MPC controller where the measured temperature inside the heating zone is fed back to the control system and the control system produces control actions fed to the reactor in a closed-loop. The control system consists of a MPC code linked to an adaptive system identification code that updates system parameters online to ensure system robustness against external disturbances, model mismatches, and uncertainty. The MPC controller parameters are tuned to optimize the system performance with minimum steady-state error and overshoot. The controller is tested to track different temperature ranges between 1000°C and 1500°C with different particles/gas mass flow rates and ramping temperature profiles. Results show that the MPC controller was successful in regulating the reactor temperature within ± 5°C of its setpoint and maintaining robust performance with minimum input effort when subjected to external disturbances.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.