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Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

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Transient model-based operation guidance on blast furnace

Yoshinari Hashimoto a ,∗, Yohei Kitamura b , Tomohiro Ohashi b , Yoshitaka Sawa c , Manabu Kano d
Instrument and Control Engineering Research Department, Steel Research Laboratory, JFE Steel Corp., 1 Kokan-cho, Fukuyama, Hiroshima, 721-8510, Japan
Ironmaking Department, Kurashiki works, JFE Steel Corp, Japan
JFE Techno-Research Corp., Japan
Department of Systems Science, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University, Japan


Keywords: To reduce the heat variance and realize the stable operation of a blast furnace, an operation guidance system
Model predictive control was developed. This system involves nonlinear model predictive control based on a new transient model and
Blast furnace provides appropriate guidance to operators. Accurate future prediction is a key to success because the huge heat
Numerical simulation
capacity of the blast furnace leads to slow, complex dynamics with long dead time. The online validation results
Hot metal temperature
in the actual furnace showed that the standard deviation of the hot metal temperature was reduced by 3.7 ◦ C
Operation guidance
when the operators followed the guidance provided by the developed system.

1. Introduction increases. However, HMT and the PC flow rate seem to have negative
correlation. This spurious correlation is caused by the huge heat capacity
A blast furnace in steel making industry plays the role of smelting of blast furnace, which leads to a long response time of approximately
and reducing the iron ore, and it consumes huge energy. Fig. 1 shows a 12 h. Such slow dynamics makes blast furnace operation difficult. In
schematic view of a blast furnace. The heat indices of the furnace, such fact, the operators frequently take excessive actions, which cause the
as the hot metal temperature (HMT) and silicon content of hot metal, are variation of HMT.
controlled by manipulating the temperature of hot blast injected from To cope with the long response time and reduce the HMT variance,
the lower furnace, the blast moisture, the blast volume, the pulverized a control law based on the future prediction of the furnace state is
coal (PC) flow rate, and the coke ratio which is the weight ratio of coke effective. The control law needs to be clear so that the operators can
to iron ore. The hot metal and its viscous byproduct, i.e. the slag, are understand the behavior of the system intuitively. Hence, a model
drained from tap holes. Control of furnace heat is necessary because
predictive control system based on a newly developed transient physical
the drainage of slag becomes extremely difficult when the heat level
model was developed. The system can handle the delay of the effect of
becomes too low. On the contrary, the problem of a too high fuel
manipulation directly, and it is understandable to operators.
consumption and CO2 emission occurs when the heat level becomes
The model accuracy is important in model predictive control. Hatano
excessively high.
et al. (1981) employed only 5 cells in height direction of blast furnace
Low coke ratio is pursued in recent operation to minimize the
in the online transient model for model predictive control. Saxen (1990)
production cost, which results in unstable furnace heat. On the other
hand, the daily operation of blast furnaces still depends on operators’ discretized the furnace by 20 cells in the online steady-state model.
intuition and experience. In the future, it is necessary to reduce the These numbers of cells are insufficient to reproduce the characteristics
variance of the furnace heat through process automation, since it may of actual burden layers, which have approximately 40 sets of iron
be difficult to maintain capable operators when the working population ore layer and coke layer. On the other hand, the fixed number of
declines. Under such circumstance, this study is aiming to develop an cells reflecting the actual layer structure was employed in conventional
operation guidance system to reduce the variance of furnace heat. HMT offline models (Austin et al., 1997; Castro et al., 2000; Dong et al.,
is adopted as the index of furnace heat. 2010; Shen et al., 2016; Takatani, 1999; Yagi, 1993; Yang et al., 2010).
Fig. 2 shows an example of the variation of the HMT. The top These models have been used for the steady-state analysis. However,
figure shows the PC flow rate, where the vertical axis is mean centered. fixing the number of cells causes numerical diffusion, which leads to
The bottom figure shows HMT in which the vertical axis indicates the the error of transient states. In the present work, to reproduce the actual
deviation from the set point. HMT increases when the PC flow rate layer structure while preventing the numerical diffusion, the calculation

∗ Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (Y. Hashimoto), (Y. Kitamura), (T. Ohashi), (Y. Sawa), (M. Kano).
Received 13 March 2018; Received in revised form 24 July 2018; Accepted 9 October 2018
Available online 22 October 2018
0967-0661/© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Table 1
Variables in the transient model.
Symbol Notes Dimension
𝑢𝑔 Mass velocity of gas [kg∕m2 s]
𝑃𝑔 Gas pressure [Pa]
𝑅𝑔 Generation rate of gas [kg∕m3 s]
𝜌𝑔 Density of gas [kg∕m3 ]
𝜌𝑓 𝑒 Iron density in the iron ore [kmol Fe∕m3 ore]
𝜌𝑐 Apparent coke density [kgcoke∕m3 coke]
𝑅𝑜 Generation rate of iron [kmol Fe∕m3 bed s]
𝑅𝑐 Generation rate of coke [kgcoke∕m3 bed s]
𝑋𝑜 Volume fraction of ore [m3 ore∕m3 bed]
𝑢0𝑔 Molar velocity of gas [kmol∕m2 s]
𝑢𝑓 𝑒 Molar velocity of iron [kmol Fe∕m2 s]
𝑅 Reaction rate [kmol∕m3 bed s]
Molar ratio of gas component
𝑋1 –𝑋5 [kmol∕kmol]
1:N2 , 2: CO , 3: CO2 , 4: H2 , 5: H2 O
Molar ratio of iron component
𝑋6 –𝑋8 6: O contained in FeOx , [kmol∕kmol Fe]
7: C in hot metal, 8: Si in hot metal
𝑇𝑔 Gas temperature [K]
𝑇𝑐 Coke temperature [K]
𝑇𝑓 𝑒 Iron temperature [K]
𝐶𝑝,𝑔 Specific heat of gas [J∕kg K]
Fig. 1. Schematic view of a blast furnace. 𝐶𝑝,𝑐 Specific heat of coke [J∕kg K]
𝐶𝑝,𝑓 𝑒 Specific heat of iron [J∕kmol K]
𝛥𝐻𝑅 Reaction heat [J∕kmol]
𝜂 Reaction heat distribution rate [–]
cells were generated dynamically at each time step so that each cell 𝐸 Heat exchange coefficient [J∕m3 s K]
corresponds to each layer.
Many approaches other than model predictive control have been
proposed for the stabilization of furnace heat: for example, prediction of
HMT by a fuzzy inference system (Matin et al., 2007), predictive control into the 1D transient model, which consists of four submodels: a gas
of silicon content by a state–space model (Zeng et al., 2010) or a neural flow model, a reaction model, an energy balance model, and a solid
network model (Chen, 2001). However, most of these researches remain flow model. Although the 1D model cannot take into account the radial
in the phase of offline simulations, and there are only few studies which distribution of the ore-to-coke ratio and the cohesive zone shape, it is
validated the control system in actual operation. In the present work, adopted in this research to reduce the computational cost. The variables
the operation guidance system based on the future prediction using the in the 1D transient model are listed in Table 1.
transient model was implemented in a control room at the real plant,
and its effect of reducing the variance of HMT was examined.
This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 describes our new 1D 2.1. Gas flow model
transient model. This model is validated by using actual operation data
in Section 3. Then, the operation guidance system is proposed in Section The mass velocity vector of gas 𝐮𝑔 is calculated from the Ergun’s
4, and it is evaluated through its online application to the real plant in equation,
Section 5. Finally, Section 6 provides the conclusions.
−∇𝑃𝑔 = 𝑘𝑔 𝐮𝑔 , (1)
2. Development of transient physical model
and its relation with the gas generation rate 𝑅𝑔 .
The details of the transient model are described in this section. The
axisymmetric 2D steady-state model (Sawa et al., 1991) was revised ∇ ⋅ 𝐮𝑔 = 𝑅𝑔 (2)

Fig. 2. Transition of PC flow rate and HMT.

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Table 2 2.4. Solid flow model and solution method

Reactions in the transient model.
Symbol Notes The solid flow, which is driven by the combustion of coke and the
𝑅1 FeOx + CO = FeOx−1 + CO2 melting of iron ore, is calculated after solving the gas flow model,
𝑅2 C + CO2 = 2CO the reaction model, and the energy balance model. Eqs. (1)–(10) were
𝑅3 FeO + C = Fe + CO
discretized by the finite volume method in advance. The time step of
𝑅4 FeOx + H2 = FeOx−1 + H2 O
𝑅5 C + H2 O = CO + H2 the calculation was set to 5 min, considering that the period of burden
𝑅6 CO + H2 O = CO2 + H2 loading is between 10 and 20 min. The phenomena involving the gas
𝑅7 C(coke) = [C] flow in Eqs. (1)–(3) and (8) were regarded steady-state because the
𝑅8 SiO2 + 2C = [Si] + 2CO residence time of gas in the furnace is within 3 s, which is much shorter
𝑅9 C + 1∕2O2 = CO (Raceway)
than the time step.
𝑅10 C + H2 O = CO + H2 (Raceway)
The initial calculation cells are shown in Fig. 3(a), where the origin
of the height position is the tuyere level. Each cell corresponds to one
set of coke layer and iron ore layer. The number of cells was set to 33
2.2. Reaction model so that the actual layer structure can be reproduced. The calculation for
convergence is conducted at each time step by the implicit method with
The reactions in Table 2 are modeled so that each reaction rate is the fixed calculation cells, while the solid flow is suspended.
described as a function of temperature and gas composition. The gas After the convergence, the solid moves downwards through the
composition 𝑋1 − 𝑋5 , oxidation degree of Fe 𝑋6 , and composition of the following procedure, by which the calculation cells are dynamically
hot metal 𝑋7 and 𝑋8 are calculated as follows. updated at each time step so that each cell corresponds to each layer
( ) ∑ set.
∇ ⋅ 𝐮0𝑔 𝑋𝑖 = 𝑚𝑖,𝑗 𝑅𝑗 (3)
𝑗 1. Return 𝜌𝑐 and 𝜌𝑓 𝑒 to the original values when materials are loaded
( )
𝜕 𝜌𝑓 𝑒 𝑋𝑖 ( ) ∑ at the furnace top in each cell except the raceway cell, assuming
+ ∇ ⋅ 𝐮𝑓 𝑒 𝑋𝑖 = 𝑚𝑖,𝑗 𝑅𝑗 (4) that the apparent coke density and iron density in the iron ore is
𝜕𝑡 𝑗
where 𝑚𝑖,𝑗 is the molar ratio of substance i (1: 𝑁2 (gas), 2: CO (gas), 2. Reduce the volume of each cell so that the mass of coke and iron
3: CO2 (gas), 4: H2 (gas), 5: H2 O (gas), 6: O contained in FeOx , 7: are preserved.
C in hot metal, 8: Si in hot metal) in the reaction j. For example, 3. Move all cells downward by one layer, when 𝜌𝑐 in the raceway
𝑚2,1 = −1, 𝑚3,1 = +1, and 𝑚6,1 = −1 in the case of reaction 1 (FeOx cell is below its threshold.
+ CO = FeOx−1 + CO2 ). 4. Load new layers from the furnace top to maintain the material
The reduction rate of iron ore by CO gas and H2 gas are proportional surface level.
to the difference from the equilibrium gas concentration determined by
The volume of raceway cell was kept constant and the density of the
the oxidation degree of iron (Fe).
coke at the raceway was varied to make it easier to treat the boundary
The iron density 𝜌𝑓 𝑒 in the iron ore and the apparent density of coke
condition at the tuyere. The numerical diffusion during the burden
𝜌𝑐 are calculated as follows.
descent can be suppressed by the dynamic generation of calculation
𝜕𝜌𝑓 𝑒 cells, which is described in Section 3.2.
𝑋𝑜 = −𝑅𝑜 (5)
𝜕𝑡 In order to perform the simulation, the change of manipulated
( ) 𝜕𝜌𝑐 variables has to be taken into account. The blast volume of air, the blast
1 − 𝑋𝑜 = −𝑅𝑐 (6)
𝜕𝑡 moisture, the blast temperature, and the pulverized coal flow rate were
where 𝑅𝑜 and 𝑅𝑐 denote the consumption rates of iron ore and coke, set as the boundary condition at the tuyere. The coke ratio per iron
respectively. and the top gas pressure were treated as the boundary condition at the
In addition, liquid phase is explicitly considered in the model while furnace top.
its holdup is neglected. When the temperature of the iron ore is more
than 1200 ◦ C, the iron ore starts melting. The molar velocity of liquid 3. Model validation
iron is calculated by integrating the melting rate above each cell as
follows. In this section, the developed 1D transient model is validated
through steady-state simulations and dynamic simulations by comparing
𝑢𝑓 𝑒 (ℎ) = 𝑅𝑜 𝑑𝑉 (7) the simulation results with the actual plant data.
where ℎ is height position and 𝐻 is the furnace height. 3.1. Key process variables

2.3. Energy balance model The process variables which represent the reaction results of a
blast furnace are introduced. These variables have to be reproduced
Considering the reaction heat and heat exchange between the solid accurately because they affect HMT through the heat balance of the
and the gas, the temperature is calculated as follows. furnace.
( ) ∑ ( ) ( ) The CO gas utilization ratio 𝜂𝐶𝑂 , which indicates the conversion ratio
∇ ⋅ 𝐶𝑝,𝑔 𝑇𝑔 𝐮𝑔 = 𝜂𝑔𝑗 𝛥𝐻𝑅𝑗 𝑅𝑗 + 𝐸𝑔,𝑓 𝑒 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 − 𝑇𝑔 + 𝐸𝑔,𝑐 𝑇𝑐 − 𝑇𝑔 (8) of CO into CO2 , is defined by
( ) 𝐶𝑂2
𝜕 𝜌𝑓 𝑒 𝐶𝑝,𝑓 𝑒 𝑋𝑜 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 ( ) 𝜂𝐶𝑂 = , (11)
+ ∇ ⋅ 𝜌𝑓 𝑒 𝐶𝑓 𝑒 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 𝐮𝑓 𝑒 𝐶𝑂 + 𝐶𝑂2
∑ ( ) ( ) where CO and CO2 correspond to the volume ratio of each component
= 𝜂𝑓 𝑒𝑗 𝛥𝐻𝑅𝑗 𝑅𝑗 + 𝐸𝑔,𝑓 𝑒 𝑇𝑔 − 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 + 𝐸𝑓 𝑒,𝑐 𝑇𝑐 − 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 (9) in the furnace top gas. High 𝜂𝐶𝑂 means that the CO gas is effectively
( ) used to reduce iron ore.
𝜕 𝜌𝑐 𝐶𝑝,𝑐 𝑋𝑐 𝑇𝑐 ∑ ( ) ( )
= 𝜂𝑐𝑗 𝛥𝐻𝑅𝑗 𝑅𝑗 + 𝐸𝑔,𝑐 𝑇𝑔 − 𝑇𝑐 + 𝐸𝑓 𝑒,𝑐 𝑇𝑓 𝑒 − 𝑇𝑐 (10) The production rate 𝑉𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑑 can be calculated by the oxygen balance.
𝜕𝑡 𝑗 𝑂 −𝑉𝑂
𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑛
where subscripts g, fe, and c denote gas, iron, and coke. 𝑉𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑑 = (12)

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 3. Calculation cells in the developed 1D transient model.

𝑂 is the flow rate of oxygen from the furnace top, 𝑉 𝑂 is the

where 𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 Table 3
oxygen input rate to the tuyere, and 𝑂𝑜𝑟𝑒 is the oxygen amount in Input condition of the model.

unreduced iron ore which has to be reduced to produce unit volume Input variable Amount

of hot metal. 𝑉𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑑 cannot be uniquely determined by the manipulated Blast volume 6770 N m3 /min
𝑂 is the result of reactions.
variables, as 𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 Blast temperature 1133 ◦ C
Blast moisture 26 g/N m3
The reducing agent ratio (RAR), which is the sum of PC ratio and Enrichment oxygen 284 N m3 /min
coke ratio per iron, is evaluated by PC flow rate 960 kg/min
𝑉𝑃 𝐶𝐼 + 𝑉𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 Coke ratio 367 kg/t-pig
𝑅𝐴𝑅 = , (13) Top gas pressure 338 kPa
where 𝑉𝑃 𝐶𝐼 is the PC flow rate. The consumption rate of coke 𝑉𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 can
be estimated by the carbon balance.
The iron ore at room temperature is loaded from the furnace top,
𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑛 which is located at the height position between 22 and 23 m in Fig. 4(a),
𝑉𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 = (14)
𝐶𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 and it is heated through the heat exchange with the gas. The iron ore
𝐶 is the outflow rate of carbon from the furnace, 𝑉 𝐶 is the
where 𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 starts melting when the temperature reaches around 1200 ◦ C, which
carbon input rate to the tuyere, and 𝐶𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 is the carbon amount in unit leads to the decrease of ore volume ratio at the height position between
mass of coke. 𝑉𝑐𝑜𝑘𝑒 depends on the reaction rates of the coke gasification 2 and 3 m in Fig. 4(b). The contact area between the gas and the iron
and the carburization. In the developed 1D transient model, the coke is becomes smaller when the iron ore turns into liquid pig iron, and it
supplied from the furnace top to meet the coke balance. results in the large temperature difference between the gas and iron.
The solution loss carbon 𝐶𝑠𝑜𝑙 is consumed by coke gasification The melting of iron ore reduces the volume of calculation cell. Fig. 3(b)
reactions, which are highly endothermic, and it is estimated by the shows the converged cell in the steady state, where the shrinkage of cells
carbon balance. takes place in the lower furnace below 3 m height.
𝐶 − 𝑉 𝑂 ⋅ 12∕16
𝑉𝑜𝑢𝑡 The iron ore loaded from the furnace top is unreduced, i.e. FeO1.5 .
𝐶𝑠𝑜𝑙 = (15) During the burden descent process in the furnace, its oxidation degree
decreases through the reduction by CO gas, H2 gas, and the coke, as
3.2. Reproducibility of phenomena in steady state shown in Fig. 4(c). The gas utilization is zero at the tuyere level, and it
rises through the reduction of iron ore while ascending in the furnace,
Input conditions in Table 3 were fed to the developed 1D transient as shown in Fig. 4(d).
model, and calculation was conducted until the steady state was at- In general, there exists a thermal reserve zone in a blast furnace,
tained. The distribution of the temperature, the volume ratio of iron where the rise of the burden temperature becomes gradual around
ore, the oxidation degree of iron ore, and the CO gas utilization ratio in 1000 ◦ C. Fig. 4(a) shows that the thermal reserve zone is located be-
height direction is shown in Fig. 4, where the origin of the vertical axis tween 5 and 12 m height. The thermal reserve zone involves a chemical
is the tuyere level. reserve zone, in which the reduction of iron ore slows down (Yamagata

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 4. Distribution of process variables in height direction.

Fig. 5. Transition of the distribution of ore volume ratio when coke ratio is changed.

et al., 1990). The CO gas utilization ratio reaches the equilibrium 3.3. Reproducibility of phenomena in transient state
between Fe and FeO1.05 in the chemical reserve zone. The developed
1D transient model successfully reproduces these zones at steady state, In order to confirm the reproducibility of the dynamic behavior
where the height position is between 8 and 12 m. in transient condition, the step response of HMT to the manipulated
As shown in Fig. 4(c), the reduction reaction terminates only 2 m variables, i.e. the coke ratio, the blast moisture, and the PC flow rate,
above the tuyere, which seems too low. However, lowering the terminal were investigated. A step-wise change was given to each manipulated
of the reduction reaction was effective to reproduce the sudden change variable after the steady state was achieved under the condition in
of actual HMT. It is because the sensitivity of HMT to the change of Table 3. The other manipulated variables were kept constant.
solution loss carbon is expected to increase when the direct reduction Fig. 5(a) and (b) show a step response of HMT to the change of the
reaction occurs in the lower furnace. coke ratio by 20 kg/t, where the vertical axes indicate the difference

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 6. Transition of process variables when blast moisture is changed.

Fig. 7. Transition of process variables when PC flow rate is changed.

from their steady-state values before the change of coke ratio. Small the gas temperature in the raceway. All variables are the difference from
fluctuation of HMT is caused by discontinuous burden descent, and it is their steady-state values before the change of BM. The decrease of BM
observed even at steady state. leads to the decrease of the coke gasification in the raceway (𝑅10 in
Fig. 5(c) shows the distributions of ore volume ratio along the height Table 2) which is the strongly endothermal reaction. This results in the
of the furnace in the transitional period. HMT rises with a delay of 6 h rise in the raceway gas temperature, and HMT rapidly increases through
when the coke ratio is changed. The cause of the delay can be explained the heat exchange between the gas and iron in the lower furnace. The
by the fact that HMT changes after the layers involving high coke ratio,
slow increase of HMT after 3 h is governed by the heat capacity of the
i.e. low ore volume ratio, arrive at the lower part of furnace, where
the temperature is high enough for iron ore to start melting. The sharp
Fig. 7(a) and (b) show the step response of HMT to the change of
interface involving the coke ratio change, which is marked by the red
circles in Fig. 5(c), is maintained during the material descent owing to PC flow rate by 50 kg/min. Fig. 7(c) and (d) show the transition of
the dynamic generation of calculation cells. Fig. 5(c5) and (c6) show the gas temperature in the raceway and RAR. The reason why HMT
that the melting zone, where the ore volume ratio drops in 2 and 3 m increases with the delay of 3 h is as follows. The hot coke combusted
height, moves upwards due to the rise in the heat level. in the raceway is partially substituted by the pulverized coal at room
Fig. 6(a) and (b) show the step response of HMT to the change of temperature, and then it reduces the raceway gas temperature and HMT.
blast moisture (BM) by −10 g/N m3 . Fig. 6(c) shows the transition of On the other hand, the increase in the PC ratio results in the rise in

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 8. Transition of manipulated variables.

Fig. 9. Comparison of actual data and model calculation.

RAR and HMT because of slower burden descent. The raceway gas The temperature distribution, the oxidation degree of iron, and the
temperature changes sharply, whereas RAR rises gradually. Hence, the compositions of the gas and the hot metal were calculated by running
effect of the raceway gas temperature is relatively stronger than that of the model with the manipulated variables shown in Fig. 8 where the
RAR just after PC flow rate is increased, and it holds up the rise of HMT vertical axes are mean centered. Fig. 9 shows the calculation results of
for 3 h.
the key process variables and the corresponding actual data, where the
3.4. Comparison with actual data vertical axes show the difference from the mean values of actual data.
The solution loss carbon, the production rate, and RAR were calculated
The developed 1D transient model was validated by comparing the by the same Eqs. (15), (12), and (13), using the carbon balance and
calculated process variables including HMT and the real plant data. oxygen balance.

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 10. Future prediction of process variables by transient model.

Fig. 11. Calculation of step response to blast moisture change.

The calculation results agree with the actual data. The developed control. The control law was constructed on the basis of the previous
1D transient model does not take into account the residence time in the study on a shaft furnace (Hashimoto et al., 2017). First, the HMT change
hearth region. Hence, the calculated HMT is shifted by 2 h, assuming in the future is predicted assuming that the manipulated variables
that the residence time is 2 h. are kept at the present value, followed by the calculation of the step
Even though the transient model neglects the radial distribution of response. Then, the optimal manipulation for achieving the target HMT
ore-to-coke ratio, it can successfully reproduce the variation of actual is calculated. The control cycle time was 30 min.
HMT. The reason is that the transient model can describe the existence
of the chemical reserve zone, therefore it can simulate the small variance
4.1. Selection of manipulated variables
of the actual gas utilization ratio and calculate the reaction rate of the
reduction of iron ore with accuracy. This characteristic of the model
The operators normally adjust the blast moisture (BM) and PC flow
enhances the performance of HMT calculation.
rate to maintain the furnace heat at the desired level. The PC flow
4. Guidance system to reduce HMT variance rate is not suitable as a manipulated variable in the operation guidance
system for two reasons. First, the PC flow rate is frequently changed
The operation guidance to reduce the variance of furnace heat can be so that the PC rate per iron is kept constant, when production rate is
realized by optimizing the manipulated variables with model predictive changed. Second, operators tend to substitute coke by the PC to reduce

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 12. Calculation of step response to blast moisture change (another scenario).

Fig. 13. Prediction accuracy and calculation accuracy of HMT.

the production cost. BM is more favorable than the PC flow rate to The trend of predicted future HMT coincides with that of actual
examine if the operators followed the guidance or not. In addition, the data, even though the actual manipulated variables in the future are
effect of the manipulation appears in the change of HMT more quickly in not used in the calculation. The heat capacity of the process is so huge
the case of BM than the case of PC flow rate, as can be seen in Figs. 6(b) that the HMT change in 10 h is largely governed by the accumulation
and 7(b). The only drawback of manipulating BM is that the average of the manipulations in the past. In addition, in this case, the actual
BM level needs to be high enough to change in both directions, which manipulated variables were not changed in about five hours, except PC
elevates the overall RAR. Considering above, BM was chosen as the flow rate. Thus, the good prediction result was obtained. Hereafter, the
manipulated variable in the developed guidance system. predicted HMT transition is denoted as free response 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑓 𝑟𝑒𝑒 (𝑡).

4.2. Prediction of HMT in the future 4.3. Calculation of step response

Future HMT can be calculated by running the transient model The step response of HMT to the change of BM depends on the
repeatedly, assuming that the manipulated variables are kept constant furnace state. Hence, it is desirable to update the step response online
at the present value. An example of calculation result is shown in Fig. 10, for the accurate control of HMT.
where the manipulated variables are shown in the left column, and the Fig. 11(b) shows the predicted free response of HMT with solid line.
key process variables including HMT are shown in the right column. The BM in Fig. 11(a) and the other manipulated variables are identical with
vertical axes in the left column are mean centered. The vertical axes in the case of Fig. 10. HMT is also predicted in the case where BM is
the right column indicate the difference from the mean value of actual changed by 10 g/N m3 with dotted lines in Fig. 11(a) and (b).
data except HMT in Fig. 10 (p4), which shows the deviation from the The step response of HMT to the change of BM can be extracted
set point. The origin of time 𝑡 is the moment when the prediction is by taking the difference between the predicted HMT response and the
performed. The process variables in the past are calculated by using the free response, as shown in Fig. 11(c). The step response is denoted as
actual manipulated variables. 𝑆𝑡𝑝𝐵𝑀 (𝑡).

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 14. Trends of blast moisture and HMT when operators followed the guidance.

Another step response is shown in Fig. 12. Comparing Figs. 11(c) and 5. Evaluation in the actual operation
12(c), the step response to the same manipulation varies depending on
the furnace state, which shows the necessity of the update of the step The developed guidance system was implemented in a control
response. room at a blast furnace. The predicted transition of HMT, which is
This difference of the step response can be explained by the variation the free response, and the recommended 𝛥𝐵𝑀 have been displayed
of the heat exchange area. HMT at 𝑡 = 10 h in Fig. 11(b) is higher to the operators on a 30-minute cycle. The prediction accuracy was
than that in Fig. 12(b) by 50 ◦ C. As shown in Fig. 5 (c5) and (c6), evaluated by comparing the predicted HMT change in 8 h and the actual
the position of the melting zone moves upwards when the heat level temperature change, as shown in Fig. 13(a). The accuracy was 14.8 ◦ C
rises. This results in the expansion of heat exchange area between the in RMSE. Fig. 13(b) shows the calculation accuracy, where the actual
hot metal and the gas, and the influence of raceway gas temperature on manipulated variables in the future period is used to calculate HMT.
The vertical axis, which is the actual temperature change, is the same
HMT becomes larger. Hence, the influence of BM on HMT through the
as that in Fig. 13(a). The difference between the prediction accuracy
change of raceway gas temperature is considered to be more remarkable
and the calculation accuracy is only 1.3 ◦ C in RMSE. It implies that the
in the case of Fig. 11(c) than the case of Fig. 12(c).
heat capacity of the process is so huge that the HMT change in 8 h is
mostly affected by the accumulation of the manipulations in the past.
4.4. Optimization of manipulated variables Hence, the control law based on the future prediction considering the
past manipulations is effective to reduce HMT variance.
The operation amount of BM, i.e. 𝛥𝐵𝑀, is optimized so that HMT Fig. 14 shows the real operation result where the operator manip-
coincides with the target value in the future. In general, two parameters ulated the blast moisture as recommended by the guidance system
exist in model predictive control: the prediction horizon and the control and suppressed the control error of HMT successfully. The operator
horizon. In this study, the prediction horizon was set to 10 h, considering decreased BM at −3 h in response to the gradual decrease of HMT for
that the residence time of iron inside the furnace is roughly 8 h. The about 10 h. Since the change of BM was too large to keep HMT at its
control horizon was set to 1 time step for the simplicity of the control set point, the guidance system predicted that HMT largely exceeded the
logic. set point and recommended increasing BM. In this case, the operator
The evaluation function to be minimized was designed so that HMT followed the recommendation and increased BM as the guidance system
approaches to the target value 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑟𝑒𝑓 and excessive action is avoided suggested. As a result, the actual deviation from the set point of HMT
at the same time. was successfully suppressed.
Fig. 15 shows another example where the operator should have

( )2 followed the guidance. The operator increased the coke ratio at −8 h
𝐽= 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑟𝑒𝑓 − 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑝𝑟𝑒 (𝑡) + 𝑎 ⋅ (𝛥𝐵𝑀)2 (16)
to improve the gas permeability of the furnace. Considering this action,
the guidance system predicted that HMT became too high and recom-
where 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑝𝑟𝑒 (𝑡) is the predicted HMT when the blast moisture is
mended increasing BM. Since the operator’s action was smaller than the
changed. It can be approximated by the combination of the free response
recommended value calculated by the guidance system, HMT increased
and the step response. undesirably and exceeded the set point by more than 30 ◦ C. This result
𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑝𝑟𝑒 (𝑡) = 𝐻𝑀𝑇𝑓 𝑟𝑒𝑒 (𝑡) + 𝛥𝐵𝑀 ⋅ 𝑆𝑡𝑝𝐵𝑀 (𝑡) (17) has demonstrated that the proposed guidance system is effective at
decreasing the variance of HMT.
The linearity between 𝛥𝐵𝑀 and 𝑆𝑡𝑝𝐵𝑀 (𝑡) is supposed, which is em- The recommended 𝛥𝐵𝑀 and the actual 𝛥𝐵𝑀 are compared in
pirically true if absolute value of 𝛥𝐵𝑀 is within 15 g/N m3 . 𝛥𝐵𝑀 is Fig. 16(a). The actual 𝛥𝐵𝑀 is defined by the change of blast moisture
determined to minimize the evaluation function. until 2 h after the guidance. It was assumed that the operators followed

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

Fig. 15. Trends of blast moisture and HMT when operators should have followed the guidance.

Fig. 16. Comparison of HMT variance between the case where the guidance was followed, and the case where the guidance was not followed.

the guidance when the difference between the recommended 𝛥𝐵𝑀 and 6. Conclusion
the actual 𝛥𝐵𝑀 was less than 3 g/N m3 . The variance of HMT 10 h after
the guidance was evaluated in the case where the guidance was followed In this study, a transient blast furnace model which reflects the
and in the case where it was not followed, as shown in Fig. 16(b) and actual layer structure was constructed. As a result of validation with the
(c). The standard deviation was reduced by 3.7 ◦ C when the operators actual data over a month, the calculated process variables agreed well
followed the guidance. These results demonstrate the validity of the with the actual data. Especially, accuracy of HMT was 22 ◦ C in RMSE.
developed system based on model predictive control. Moreover, the operational guidance system which calculates optimal

Y. Hashimoto et al. Control Engineering Practice 82 (2019) 130–141

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