Field of power lines during a sunset.

Process modeling and optimization tools

EPIXC aims to accelerate electric heating technology scale-up, deployment and achieving levelized cost of heat parity with combustion heating by developing validated models and optimization strategies at multiple temporal and spatial resolutions.

These include:

  • Governing equations of heat transfer for different electric heating technologies.
  • Unit- and process-level models.
  • Optimization strategies for process design.
  • New schemes for heat integration, accounting for electric heating.
  • Control system development and validation.
  • Grid expansion, integration, and interoperability analyses.
  • Safety best practices and protocols for electric heating.

Process modeling and optimization is a core activity of EPIXC and will be carried out in conjunction with the tasks described under the Electrified Technologies RD&D area.

Modeling will improve understanding of the underlying physical phenomena and guide next-generation process synthesis, scale-up and integration of electric heating technologies; offline and online optimization; predictive control, and operator assistance. It will also accelerate TEA, LCA, and scenario analysis for various integration pathways for electrification technologies.

Model-based process simulation and optimization can significantly reduce the time and resources to replace expensive plant trials to evaluate the impact of different electrification strategies. As of now, there are few validated and widely available models that describe the impact of electric heating in the EPIXC key application areas, particularly at the level of the entire process flowsheet. Motivated by this, EPIXC will support the development of multiscale process models at different fidelity levels to capture the complexity of continuous, semi-batch and batch operations, startups, and shutdowns. These models will be used for integrated process design, scheduling, and control strategies for incorporating the spatio-temporal variability in energy supply that would affect the integration of various electric heating technologies in all key application areas of EPIXC, aiming to accelerate and de-risk the adoption of electric heating.

At the same time, the large-scale adoption of electric heating will have a significant impact on the operation of the power grid. Models and tools to analyze the impact of large loads including electric heating on the grid (power quality analysis, grid stability analysis) will be pursued, along with tools for scheduling production in ways that assist the operation of the grid.