Distributed control: DCS helps automate ethanol refineries

Distributed control systems (DCS) are automating process and control functions for two ethanol refineries in western Canada.


Distributed control systems (DCS) are automating process and control functions for two ethanol refineries in western Canada. Husky Energy’s Lloydminster, SK, facility began operations in September 2006; the second plant, in Minnedosa, MB, is set to start up late in 2007. Each will use the mesh control network-based Foxboro I/A Series DCS from Invensys Process Systems , and will communicate with some 1,800 direct I/O points and 2,000 additional I/O points through multiple PLCs.

The plants’ networked control systems each have three pairs of Foxboro ZCP 270 control processors in fault-tolerant configurations connected with distributed I/O cabinets at nine process units throughout each plant. The systems perform a variety of control functions, including batch processing. Controls at the Lloydminster site are integrated with existing I/A Series control consoles at the adjacent existing heavy oil upgrader facility, which I/A Series equipment has controlled since 1992.

The plants are said to be the largest of their kind in western Canada. Each will produce 130 million liters (34.3 million gallons) of ethanol annually. The grain-based processes use high-starch, feed-quality wheat for feedstock to produce ethanol, which will be blended into gasoline products to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

—Edited by Jeanine Katzel , senior editor
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