In the ISA Automation Week Mentor Program, I am providing guidance for extremely talented individuals from Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. We will be sharing a question and the answers each week. If you would like to provide additional answers, please send them to Susan Colwell at ISA. The ninth question in the ISA Mentor program is from Danaca Jordan (USA):
“If there are several temperatures measured in a packed column, how do you choose which ones or averages of several you should use for control?”
The temperature showing the largest and most symmetrical change in temperature for a change in reflux is normally the best location. However, with a packed column, poor flow distribution can cause localized hot spots and cold spots. Also, insertion length in a packed column may be less than optimum to avoid disruption to the packing and flow distribution leading to a slower response and heat conduction errors seen as a lower than actual temperature when the column is higher than ambient temperature. Un-insulated temperature connections increase the error. For packed bed reactors, the average of multiple temperature sensors in a thermowell traversing the reactor bed are averaged to provide a more representative cross-sectional temperature. If several temperature measurements in your column show a large and nearly symmetrical response but exhibit some temporary inconsistencies, you could try an average. If these inconsistencies are noise (period of a few seconds), you should consider a PV small filter that is about equal to the noise period to get about a 5:1 attenuation of the noise amplitude.