Simulation software online for DOE power plant

The Department of Energy is using Invensys Operations Management's SimSci-Esscor DYNSIM high-fidelity simulator to train operators for future integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants.


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Invensys' overview of the DOE IGCC power plant project and their role

Invensys Operations Management announced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has deployed a first-of-a-kind operator training simulator for an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant with carbon capture using innovative simulation software-based training solutions from Invensys.

Implemented at the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL) Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research (AVESTAR) Center in Morgantown, W.Va., Invensys Operations Management’s SimSci-Esscor DYNSIM high-fidelity simulator will help train operators for new IGCC plants now being built in the United States. An AVESTAR facility identical to the one at NETL is also in place at the West Virginia University National Research Center for Coal and Energy. It also uses a DYNSIM high-fidelity simulator and will be used to assist NETL with research and education.

“IGCC with carbon capture holds tremendous promise as a low-cost, clean energy source so IGCC plants are expected to be a key resource for the provision of clean fossil power in the near future. Fulfilling that promise, however, requires an adequate supply of well-trained operators,” said Tobias Scheele, vice president, operations management applications, Invensys Operations Management. “The DOE is using our DYNSIM simulator, just as airlines use flight simulators to train pilots before they take to the air, to help future IGCC plant operators achieve operational and environmental excellence.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that, based on current usage rates, the United States has enough coal to last more than 200 years, but if plants continue to use conventional fossil fuel technologies, they will emit unacceptable levels of CO2 and other pollutants. IGCC with carbon capture offers an environmentally friendly alternative by capturing 90 percent of the CO2 produced by traditional fossil-fuel burning processes while at the same time reducing sulfur, mercury and other NOx emissions.

However, IGCC is also a complex process requiring highly trained operators. Many plants are now in various stages of design or construction in the United States and there is a pressing need for a well-trained work force. The DOE is therefore providing high-fidelity simulated environments that will enable trainees to learn to interact with controls that are almost indistinguishable from those they would encounter in a real plant.

“IGCC is highly complex, mostly because personnel must learn to operate what is effectively both a chemical processing plant and a power plant. To teach them how to do that we must simulate the chemical process of coal-gasification with CO2 capture together with combined-cycle power generation,” said Stephen E. Zitney, Ph.D. and director of NETL's AVESTAR Center. “No one has ever done that before, but now with help from Invensys, we can simulate routine operations, disturbances and malfunctions, as well as routine and emergency shutdowns. We can even simulate operations and train operators on different coal and biomass feed stocks.”

The next phase of the project, already well underway, extends simulation from the control room to outside plant operators, or field operators, expanding the SimSci-Esscor solution to a 3-D virtual reality experience using Invensys Operations Management’s EYESIM immersive training simulator. Wearing a stereoscopic headset or eyewear, IGCC field operators can coordinate activities with control room operators. Immersed in an EYESIM virtual environment, field operators can move and interact as if they were in the real plant. The environment is fully interactive with the simulation models, so actions taken by a field operator will have an impact on the process and actions performed in the control room will change the information visible to the field operator. As a result, field and control room operators will be trained to coordinate their activities and perform collaboratively as a team.

Invensys Operations Management

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Control Engineering, 

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