Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Submitted for the Qualification of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D), School of Control Systems and Electrical Engineering, Technological University Dublin, October 2006.


This work investigates the contribution modelling makes when integrated into the pilot plant development stage of a new synthetic aggregate manufacturing process. The pilot plant is based around a novel rotary kiln, unique in design from standard kilns. The kiln has a trefoil cross sectional profile and a low thermal mass. A dynamic simulation model of the kiln was built to simulate the thermal behaviour of the pilot plant and the movement of the pelletised aggregate as it travels through the kiln drum.

As part of the preliminary work, a measurement and data acquisition subsystem was commissioned to allow data collection from the pilot plant. Preliminary closed loop control investigation was used to facilitate an initial exploration of process behaviour and redesign of the kiln structure prior to the commencement of model development.

Based on the insight retrieved from these initial investigations, a modelling strategy was adopted for the pilot plant. The pilot plant simulation model was developed in three parts. The first part of the model simulates the combustion of natural gas with dissociation in the kiln burner. The second part of the model simulates the thermal dynamics of this high temperature kiln. The third part of the model simulates the movement of pellets as they travel through the kiln. Each sub-model was critically designed to include suitable signals that allow the interconnection of the three disparate model parts to form the pilot plant model. Parameters of the model were determined using a combination of physical pilot plant measurements and data retrieved from experiments performed on the pilot plant using the data acquisition system.

The pilot plant simulation model was used to investigate the operation of the pilot plant. The energy utilisation of the pilot plant during start-up was examined, for a range of operating conditions. A pellet loading strategy and a pilot plant running strategy were developed for the pilot plant using the model operating under closed loop control to establish baseline operating performance data.