Abstract: In an air separation plant, air is separated into gas and liquid products, serving different industrial sectors. The process is highly energy intensive and major operating cost is the electricity used to drive air compressors and other equipment. Today the industrial gas market is very competitive and dynamic. Many factors such as energy price, gas and liquid product prices, and customer demands change rapidly. In order to improve the profit margin of air separation plant operation, the production mode and rate need to be adjusted in an optimal manner by taking these real time factors into account. Real Time Optimization (RTO) is the technique to help achieve this objective.
In this paper, the important aspects of an RTO application on air separation will be discussed including the general IT structure, functions of its different software components, important steps in completing such a project, challenges in optimization and corresponding solutions.