Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Boiler efficiency and load distribution: Optimisation of an industrial process

Polinelli, Alexander (2018) Boiler efficiency and load distribution: Optimisation of an industrial process. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (20MB) | Preview


As energy prices are predicted to rise in the upcoming years, new and innovative methods need to be implemented into industrial facilities which aim to reduce raw material consumption while still achieving the same energy throughput. The objective of this thesis is to review the potential for optimising how the steam load is allocated to three industrial-size water-tube boilers to minimise their total natural gas consumption for a given energy output. This thesis will be solely focused on the industrial boilers located at the Alcoa Wagerup Alumina Refinery in Western Australia.

A key component of the load optimisation strategy requires that the efficiency of each boiler is accurately calculated. A new indirect efficiency calculation was implemented on the refinery’s local control network (LCN) and was compared to the three existing calculations to assess which one accurately describes how the boiler efficiency varies with load. Testing showed, the indirect method proved to be the most accurate way of calculating the efficiency of each boiler and highlighted the differences in efficiency across the boilers.

Potential cost benefits associated with optimal load allocation was assessed using MATLAB1. Trial simulations that optimised yearly sets of plant data while keeping each boiler within specific constraints were performed. All simulated scenarios were able to save on natural gas consumption. The proposed control strategy aimed to redistribute the steam load between boilers through biasing their firing rate.

Honeywell Profit Suite (PS) was used to implement an advanced process control (APC) strategy into the refinery powerhouse. After conducting a risk assessment and ensuring that the required safeguards were in place, the controller was turned on. The APC was able to successfully allocate the load to each boiler in the most optimal manner, while keeping all control variables (CV) within their pre-defined set of constraints.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Bahri, Parisa and Sikora, Kristian
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year