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Proceedings of the 2007 American Control Conference WeB19.

Marriott Marquis Hotel at Times Square
New York City, USA, July 11-13, 2007

Dynamic Modeling and Control structure design for a Liquefied

Natural Gas Process
Arjun Singh, Morten Hovd

about 50,000 tones per annum and below[1]. SINTEF has

developed a low capacity plant which requires low
Abstract— This works deals with developing a dynamic investment cost and is easy to construct at desired sites. The
model and designing a control structure for the liquefaction plant design has been patented by SINTEF [2].
unit of a Liquefied Natural Gas process developed and This works deals with developing a dynamic mathematical
patented by SINTEF1. A detailed dynamic model for this plant
model for this plant and design of a control structure for the
is developed using GPROMS as modeling environment and
Multi-flash as a physical property package. The model is used plant to ensure stability and ease of operation. Fundamental
to investigate stability and fundamental limitations on control limitations on performance of this plant are also analyzed.
performance for the plant, and to develop a control structure This LNG plant will be referred as ‘SINTEF LNG Plant’ in
based on Relative Gain Array (RGA) analysis. this paper.


F OR transportation of natural gas (NG), pipeline

transportation is often used. However, when gas
volumes are moderate, and/or transportation distances are
A complete description of the process can be found at [2].
Here a brief process description is given. Fig 1 represents
large, the capital and operating costs for pipeline transport the simplified flow sheet of the SINTEF LNG plant. Some
become prohibitive. In such cases, transport of Liquefied features of the process are removed for clarity.
Natural Gas (LNG) in tankers is often the preferred choice
for bringing the gas to the market. It is quite common to NG
have a heavy upfront investment in large industrial plants
for producing liquefied natural gas (LNG) since cost per unit 13 14
of gas volume will be relatively low over the plant lifetime.
19 12
Multi-component refrigerants have been commonly used in 1 3
such plant to achieve low temperature for LNG (-160 C at 4
near atmospheric pressure). 2 11
However, there is a growing need for liquefaction of natural
gas at places where it is not possible or economically
acceptable to have a heavy investment. This includes local 5 15 16
distribution of natural gas in small markets, where plant
needs to be arranged at a gas pipe, while the LNG is 10
transported by trucks and small ships. For such plants low
investment costs have priority over optimal energy
17 18
utilization. Traditionally the relative investment cost for
small-scale LNG liquefaction plants increases almost
7 8 9
exponentially with decreased production capacity from

Manuscript received September 15th, 2006. This work is supported by
Fig.1 Flow-sheet of SINTEF LNG Plant
Norwegian Research Council and Gas Technology Centre a joint
collaboration between Norwegian University of Science and Technology,
Trondheim, Norway and SINTEF, Norway. In Fig.1 sub-components of plants are numbered and
Arjun Singh is a PhD student at Department of Engineering Cybernetics referred as units. Units 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 are heat
of Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
7491 (phone: +47-735-94482; fax: +47-735-94599; e-mail: arjun.singh@
exchangers. Heat Exchanger (HX) numbered 13, 15 and 17 are called the
Morten Hovd is a Professor at Department of Engineering Cybernetics of ‘Refrigerant HX’ and HX number 14, 16 and 18 are called
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, ‘LNG HX’. Units 3 and 5 are separators and units 4, 6, 7, 8,
7491 (e-mail:
9 and 12 are valves. Units 10 and 11 are ejectors and units 1,
SINTEF is an abbreviation for ‘The Foundation for Scientific and 2 and 19 represent the condenser, cooling water stream, and
Industrial Research at the Norwegian Institute of Technology’ the compressor, respectively.

1-4244-0989-6/07/$25.00 ©2007 IEEE. 1347


The refrigerant is compressed in compressor (unit 19). After z = (0, L )

the compressor, the refrigerant is partly condensed primarily (3)
dTw ( z )
by water cooling in unit 1. The vapor from unit 3 is further
cooled and partly condensed in unit 13 while the liquid from
= −L ∑ Q ( z)

unit 3 is mixed with two refrigerant streams from unit 15 4) Boundary conditions for wall ends:
and 16. The vapor from unit 5 is further cooled and dTw (0) dTw ( L)
condensed in unit 15 and sub-cooled in unit 17 before it is = 0; = 0 (4)
flashed to a pressure of about 2-4 bar, giving the cold
dz dz
refrigerant for unit 17 and unit 18 before mixing it with the 5) Heat Transfer:
liquid from unit 5. After mixing, the refrigerant flow is Qi ( z ) = U i Ai {Tw ( z ) − Ti ( z )} (5)
divided and distributed to unit 15 and 16. The natural gas is 6) Thermodynamics and additional equations
cooled in unit 14, condensed in unit 16 and sub cooled in Ei ( z ) = mi hi ( z )
unit 18.
Uvi ( z ) = Umi ( z ) ρ i ( z )
III. DYNAMIC MODEL Umi = hi ( z ) − Pi / ρ i ( z ) (6)
A detailed dynamic model for the plant is developed in
gPROMS using Multi-flash for calculation of physical hi = f (Ti ( z ), Pi , X i )
properties for the natural gas and the refrigerant. The SRK ρ i = f (Ti ( z ), Pi , X i )
(Soave-Redlich-Kwong) equation of state is used for both
Symbols used in equations (1) to (6) are explained in Table
refrigerant and natural gas. As evident from Fig. 1, first it is
essential to develop model for the main components in the
plant flow sheet, namely the heat exchangers, valve,
compressor, condenser, separator and ejector. The model of Symbol Variable
the heat exchangers and condenser are based on the same i(subscript) Stream Index (h and c)
principles. A brief description of models is given below: z Axial distributed domain
m Stream mass flow rate
A. Heat exchangers Ei Stream Energy flow rate

A one dimensional distributed dynamic mathematical model L Length of heat exchanger

for a heat exchanger having heat exchange between two Ai Stream Frontal flow area
streams is developed using energy(internal energy) and mass Stream Volumetric specific
balances. Pressure drop in the heat exchanger is neglected. internal energy
The composition of each stream is assumed to be constant Stream Mass specific internal
from inlet to outlet. A constant heat transfer coefficient is energy
assumed for each stream. Streams (hot and cold) are Stream Mass specific enthalpy
assumed to exchange heat through metal wall. The metal
wall separating the streams is assumed to have negligible ρi Stream Mass density
thermal conduction in the axial direction and infinitely fast Stream Temperature
thermal conduction in the radial direction [3]. A separate
energy balance is used for the internal energy of the metal Qi Heat flux
wall. Wall ends are assumed to be adiabatic. The models for Stream Average Pressure
both the streams and the wall are one-dimensional. Pi
Following are the key equations: Ai Heat transfer area per unit
1) Energy Balance for the hot stream: length between stream i and
z = [0, L) wall j
Ui Overall Heat Transfer
1 ∂Ei ( z ) Qi ( z ) dUvi ( z ) (1) coefficient
− + =
Ai L ∂z Ai dt Tw Wall Temperature
2) Energy Balance for the cold stream: m Wall mass
z = (0, L] Cp Wall specific heat capacity
1 ∂Ei ( z ) Qi ( z ) dUvi ( z ) (2) Xi Stream Composition
+ =
Ai L ∂z Ai dt
3) Energy balance for the wall: B Compressor
This model describes the relation between gas mass flow
rate and pressure head across the compressor. In this model,
infinitely fast dynamics is assumed within the compressor.


Negligible hold up and inertia of refrigerant is considered in calculation. This is a standard model from GPROMS model
the compressor. Fan Laws (affinity laws) are used to model Library.
speed dependent variations in performance, so that single
characteristic curve (head vs. flow) is enough to describe D Valves
behavior at any speed. The compression process is modeled Valves are assumed to have equal enthalpy at inlet and
as polytrophic. Constant efficiency is assumed for outlet thus making it an isenthalpic process. Also these
compressor i.e. efficiency is not assumed to vary with flow models have an equation relating mass flow rate through the
rate. Key equations are as follow: valve to the pressure difference across valve.
1) Polytrophic Head
⎡ η
⎤ E Ejectors
η CRTin ⎢⎛ Po ⎞η −1 ⎥ Ejectors are modeled as pure mixers. The mixer model
H= ⎜ ⎟ − 1⎥ (7) accounts for the mass balance of each component. Energy
η − 1 M w ⎢⎝ Pi ⎠
⎣ ⎦ balance is carried out for enthalpy and pressure for inlet and
outlet streams in ejector is same which is calculated from
2) Polytrophic Index
mass flow and pressure drop relationship for exit streams
η ⎛ γ ⎞⎛ η ⎞ from ejector.
=⎜ (8)
η − 1 ⎝ γ − 1 ⎟⎠ ⎜⎝ 100 ⎟⎠
3) Discharge Temperature
The flow-sheet of the SINTEF LNG plant is constructed by
⎛ P ⎞η −1
To = Tin ⎜ o ⎟ (9) connecting the above developed models for different
⎝ Pi ⎠ components as per Fig 1. In this way we obtain a complete
4) Fan Laws dynamic model for the plant. The overall plant model has a
2 DAE index 1. The following variables were specified in
H ⎛ω ⎞ model:
=⎜ ⎟
H d ⎝ ωd ⎠
(10) A) Heat Exchangers 13,15,16,17 and 18: Frontal flow
V ω areas, heat transfer areas and heat transfer coefficients for
= each stream, length, width, wall thickness, wall properties
Vd ωd for each heat exchanger. Initial condition was given by
Symbols used in equations (7) to (10) are explained in Table specifying derivatives of all states consistent with energy
2. balance for each stream and wall equal to zero.
TABLE 2 B) Heat Exchanger 14: All data as given for other heat
Symbol Variable exchangers above in A). Since this is the heat exchanger in
H, H d Polytrophic head at operating which natural gas enters first, it is essential to specify inlet
point, at design point temperature, pressure, mass flow rate and composition for
C Compressibility factor entering natural gas. Initial condition was given by
η ,γ Polytrophic Index, Ratio of specifying derivatives of all states consistent with energy
specific heats at suction side balance for each stream and wall equal to zero.
ω ,ω d
Operating speed ,design speed C) Condenser: All data as given for heat exchangers in A)
and inlet temperature, pressure and mass flow-rate of water
V , Vd Volume Flow rate at operating
entering the compressor. Initial condition was given by
speed, at design speed
specifying derivatives of all states consistent with energy
M w ,R Molecular weight, Universal
balance for each stream and wall equal to zero.
Gas constant
D) Valves: Valve coefficients and valve openings. For valve
Po , Pi , To , Tin Suction and Discharge Pressure
9, outlet pressure is fixed and valve opening is not specified
and Temperature respectively
since mass flow rate of natural gas entering heat exchanger
14 is specified. Initial conditions were specified by
C Separators
specifying initial values to control variable valve opening.
It is assumed that the liquid and vapor are at equilibrium at
E) Separators: Volume. Initial conditions are components
all times and thus there is perfect contact between the vapor
mass fractions for i= 1: NC-1, where NC is the total number
and liquid phases. Also it is assumed that there is negligible
of components in refrigerant and temperature and Pressure.
entrainment of liquid in the vapor stream. The model
F) Compressor: The characteristic curve relating head with
accounts for the mass balance of each component. The
flow rate, polytrophic efficiency, speed and design speed
overall energy balance ensures that internal energy is
were specified. No initial conditions required as this is a
conserved. No heat addition or subtraction is included in the
completely static model.
flash calculations, thus resulting in an adiabatic UV flash
G) Ejectors: No data need to be specified for the ejectors.
The distribution of flow from the ejector is determined by


using a valve at each outlet of ejector. No initial conditions percentage deviation relative to the experimentally measured
are required since model for ejectors is static model. value.
With these sets of specifications and initial condition model Figure 4 shows the name and location of variables for which
was simulated and it was found out that plant reaches a model output is being compared with experimental data.
steady state. Fig. 2 and 3 shows the liquid level in both Table 3 shows the meaning of symbols used for
separators reaching a steady state value. Similarly Fig. 4 measurements in Fig 4 and also percentage deviation (%D).
shows LNG temperature at the exit of valve 9.
Symbol Variable %D
P1 Compressor Suction Pressure -12
Liquid Volume (m^3)

0.00225 Mass fraction at compressor

Xi, i=1 3
suction for component 1
0.00224 Mass fraction at compressor
Xi, i=2 -10
suction for component 2
Mass fraction at compressor
0.00223 Xi, i=3 1.9
suction for component 3
Mass fraction at compressor
0.00222 Xi, i=4 13.7
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 suction for component 4
Time(s) Suction volume flow rate of
V -8
refrigerant through Compressor
Fig. 2 Liquid level in separator 3 reaching a steady state Temperature of refrigerant at
T1 -1.5
condenser outlet
Temperature of vapor leaving
0.00104 T2 0.07
separator 3
Liquid Volume (m^3)

0.00103 Temperature of vapor leaving

T3 17
separator 5
Temperature of hot refrigerant
0.00101 T4 11.5
at HX 15 exit
0.00100 Temperature of hot refrigerant
T5 -0.5
0.00099 at HX 17 exit
Temperature of refrigerant at
0.00098 T6 1.7
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 the exit of valve 7 and 8
Time(s) Cold refrigerant Temperature at
T7 1.9
the exit of HX 17
Fig. 3 Liquid level in separator 5 reaching a steady state Temperature of cold refrigerant
T8 -3.9
at the exit of HX 18
T9 Outlet temperature for ejector 1 8.5
Temperature of cold refrigerant
113.802 T10 11.8
LNG Temperature (K)

at the exit of HX 15
113.800 Temperature of cold refrigerant
T11 8.1
at the exit of HX 16
113.798 T12 Outlet temperature for ejector 2 5.6
Temperature of NG at the exit
T13 12.2
113.796 of HX 14
Temperature of NG at the exit
113.794 T14 3.7
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 of HX 16
Time(s) Temperature of NG at the exit 3.3
of HX 18
Fig. 4 LNG Temperature at the exit of valve 9 reaching a steady state
It is clear from the table 3 that for most of the variables,
V MODEL VALIDATION model output is within 5-10% range of experimental values
of these values. There are several reasons for this inaccuracy
The steady state output from the model is verified against of model predictions such as compressor performance curve
available measurements from the SINTEF pilot plant in used in compressor model is not exact. Further a single heat
Trodheim, Norway. Comparison of model outputs and transfer coefficient is used for a stream in a particular heat
experimental data is expressed in Table 3 in terms of exchanger. However, this difference in prediction is
acceptable since this is not huge. Since the intention of this


work is to use this model for control studies, it has been model prediction. It also indicates that contrary to practice,
decided not to focus more on fine tuning the model and controlling only one liquid level is essential.
move to control design for this plant based on this dynamics
P1 Xi ( i= 1: NC-1) T17 T16
Obtained dynamic model is linearized in GPROMS for
T1 chosen set of controlled variables and available manipulated
T12 variables. Following are the manipulated variables and
T13 controlled variables.
T10 T11 Number Controlled Manipulated
T3 Variables Variables
1 P1 Compressor Speed
T9 2 T1 Water mass flow
T14 rate in Condenser
3 Liquid Level in Valve 4 opening
T4 T7 T8
separator 3
4 T15 Valve 5 opening
5 T14 Valve 7 opening
T5 T6 6 T17-T16 Valve 8 opening
T15 7 T13 Valve 12 opening
T16 and T17 represent exit temperature of refrigerant in HX
Fig. 4 Location of measurements
14 and 13 respectively. The resulting lineaized model is of
533 states. These large number of states results due to
It is necessary to check at this state whether the model is
distributed model for all heat exchanger. These number of
capable of moving to another steady state if there are any
states needs to be reduced to make this model workable for
disturbances or change in one of the variables whose values
tuning of controllers. But before this, it is necessary to
are specified (manipulated variables such as valve
investigate stability and limitations on performance imposed
openings). It has been demonstrated that model moves to
by RHP (Right half plane) zeros and poles.
another steady state when these changes occurs thereby
indicating that plant is stable. Changes in liquid level (Fig 5)
A) Uncontrollable states
have been shown here when opening of valve 4 is increased
It has been shown in literature[4] that in a closed cycle
by 2 % at time 10000 s during simulations.
process where hold up of flowing medium is constant, and
where hold up is used as dynamic variable, this hold up
appears as pole and zero at origin in the lineaized model.
Liquid Level in Separator 5
Liquid level in Separator 3

The hold up is fixed in closed cycle process and is therefore
0.00120 an uncontrollable state. In cases where multi-component
0.00220 refrigerant is a working fluid for cycle, the number of poles
and zeros at origin would be equal to the number of
components in refrigerant. It is essential to remove these
0.00210 uncontrollable states from model if model reduction is to be
carried out. However for carrying out Relative gain array
0.00205 0.00090
10000 11000 12000 13000 14000 (RGA) analysis, it is not necessary to removes these states,
Time(s) since the frequency response can be calculated also for non-
minimal models.
Liquid level in Separator 3 (left)
Liquid Level in Separator 5 (right)
B) Limitations on bandwidth due to RHP zeros and poles
Fig. 5 Changes in liquid level in separator due to change in valve 4 opening
Besides five poles and five zeros at origin, which appear due
to presence of uncontrollable states in linearized model,
In Fig.5 the model prediction is in line with the expectations.
there were no other RHP poles in system thereby implying
It is expected that liquid level will drop in separator 3 when
system to be stable which is verified by step response of
opening of valve 4 is increased and liquid level in separator
linearized model and by dynamic simulation of plant in
5 will increase since these are the only two places which act
as hold up of refrigerant in cycle. Increase in one level
There were total 8 RHP zeros in the system excluding five
means decrease in other one. This has been validated by
zeros at origin due to uncontrollable states. These RHP zeros


would pose fundamental limitations on bandwidth of

controllers for the plant [5].

C) RGA analysis T

A control structure design is proposed based on RGA

analysis. Based on RGA pairing of controlled variables and
manipulated variables was selected. Magnitude of RGA
elements at low frequency and their sign at steady states
were the factors deciding pairings [5]. High interaction in
system was observed at high frequencies. Some of the
obtained pairings are contrary to the general belief of pairing
variables based on proximity. Table 5 shows the possible
pairing based on sign of RGA elements at steady state and P T

Table 6 and Fig 7 shows final proposed pairing based on

sign of steady state and magnitude of RGA elements at low
frequency. Fig. 6 shows the magnitude of RGA elements for Fig. 7 Proposed control structure for SINTEF LNG Plant
chosen pairing.
A detailed dynamic model for SINTEF LNG Plant is
developed and validated against available measurements.
Model was accurate enough to use it for control studies.
RGA (Magnitude)

Linearized model for above plants shows that plant is stable
i.e. moves from one steady state to another when disturbance
-1 RGA(2,2) or changes in manipulate variables occur. Presence of RHP
RGA(4,6) zeros implies that there would be fundamental limitations on
RGA(6,7) bandwidth. RGA analysis indicates that there are lots of
10 -5
interactions in system at high frequencies. A control
-4 -3 -2 -1 0 1
10 10 10 10
10 10 10 structure design is proposed for SINTEF LNG plant based
Fig.6 Magnitude of RGA elements for chosen pairing among controlled on RGA analysis.
variables and manipulated variables.
TABLE 5 Authors would like to acknowledge the help from SINTEF
Manipulated Variables Energy Research, Trondheim, Norway for providing
geometrical and process data for plant and making
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 measurements available for model validation.
2 Yes Yes Yes
3 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes [1] O.B. Neeraas, E. Brendeng, Aa. Wallentinsen and M.
4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Mangersnes “A new concept for small scale LNG
5 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes production” AIChE Spring National Meeting, Houston,
6 Yes Yes Yes April 22-26 2001
7 Yes [2] “Method and device for small scale liquefaction of a
product gas”, US Patent No. US 6,751,984 B2
TABLE 6 [3] Y. Qu, L. Xu, X. Fang, J. Wang and S. Gu “ A new
Controlled Variable Manipulated Variable approach to heat exchanger control based on model
1 5 control” International Journal of Information and Systems
2 2 Sciences, Vol. 2, No.1, p 31-41, 2006
3 3 [4] A. Singh and M. Hovd “Dynamic Modeling and Control
4 6 of PRICO LNG Plant”, AIChE annual Meeting, San
5 1 Francisco, 2006
6 7 [5] S. Skogestad and I. Postlethwaite “Multivariable
7 4 Feedback Control, Analysis and Design” John Wiley&
Sons, Ltd, Second edition, 2005