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Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225

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Robust PI stabilization of a class of chemical reactors
Jose Alvarez-Ramirez
a,
, Ricardo Femat
b
a
Departamento de Ingenieria de Procesos e Hidraulica, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa, Apartado Postal 55-534,
09340 Mexico D.F., Mexico
b
Facultad de Ciencias Quimicas, Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Received 22 September 1998; received in revised form 31 May 1999; accepted 1 July 1999
Abstract
The aim of this letter is to study the stabilization of a class of continuous-stirred tank reactors in the face of control input
saturations and uncertain chemical kinetics. A rst-order compensator with modeling error compensation is designed, and
its ability to stabilize the reactor temperature at an arbitrary setpoint is proven. It is shown that the resulting controller is
equivalent to a standard PI compensator with antireset windup scheme. c 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Process control; Chemical reactors; Robust stabilization; Integral action; Antireset windup
1. Introduction
Chemical reactors are the most important opera-
tion units in the chemical industry. The stabilization
of the operation of chemical reactors has attracted
the attention of researchers for a long time. The
underlying motivation relies on the fact that industrial
chemical reactors are frequently operated at unstable
operating conditions, which often corresponds to op-
timal process performance. Polymerization processes
[3,18] and uidized catalyst cracking units [11] are
important examples of large-scale chemical reactors
operated at unstable conditions.
In virtually all present-day industrial applications,
the basic reactor temperature regulation problem is
eciently solved using proportional plus integral
(PI) controllers. On the other hand, important factors
such as (i) uncertain nonlinearities induced by chem-
ical kinetics, (ii) exothermicity due to the chemical

Corresponding author. Tel.: +52-5-7244649; fax: +52-5-


7244900.
E-mail address: cdp@xanum.uam.mx (J. Alvarez-Ramirez)
reaction activity and (iii) control input saturations
due to cooling}heating system limitations, must be
considered in the control design for actual industrial
applications.
In the recent literature of which we are aware,
input}output (I}O) feedback linearization methodolo-
gies have been widely explored for the stabilization
of chemical reactors (see [3,4,15,18] for example).
However, there is a lack of rigorous results and
systematic approaches to the problem of robust sta-
bilization against uncertain parameters and chemical
kinetics. Recently, the stabilization of chemical reac-
tors by output feedback with PI-type controllers has
been reviewed and treated in details in a Ph.D. thesis
[12]. In [3], we used calorimetric balances to propose
a robust control scheme in the face of uncertain chem-
ical kinetics for a class of continuous-stirred tank
reactors (CSTR). Fradkov et al. [8] studied the via-
bility of dening a stabilizing parameter update law
for the case when the reaction kinetics are convex on
the unknown parameters. This control schemes suf-
fers from the drawback that perfect knowledge of the
parameter structure and concentration measurement
0167-6911/99/$ - see front matter c 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S0167- 6911( 99) 00057- 2
220 J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225
are required. Viel et al. [19,20] proposed a systematic
approach to study the global stabilization of a class of
CSTRs with unknown chemical kinetics and arbitrary
number of involved kinetics. Under the assumption
that the chemical kinetic functionalities are separable
with respect to temperature and concentrations, they
proposed an adaptive feedback control to estimate
the temperature functionality of the chemical kinetics
and proved global asymptotic stability at an arbitrary
setpoint. The proposed controller requires complete
knowledge of the chemical reaction network and its
concentration functionality, and measurements of a
subset of concentrations. In industrial applications,
the complete chemical reaction network is poorly
known and models of the chemical kinetics are often
highly uncertain [1].
In this paper, for a general class of CSTRs, we
propose an output feedback control structure that
guarantee stabilization in the face of unknown chem-
ical kinetics functionalities and hard control input
saturations. A rst-order compensator with modeling
error compensation is designed, and its ability to
stabilize the reactor temperature at an arbitrary set-
point is proven. It is shown that the resulting con-
troller is equivalent to a standard PI compensator with
antireset windup structure, hence the title of the paper.
With respect to existing robust stabilization result
available in the literature [2,8,12,15,19,20], in this
work, we make the following extensions:
Measurements of any chemical species concentra-
tion are no longer required.
Separability of the chemical kinetics functionality
with respect to temperature and concentrations is
not assumed [9].
Semiglobal stabilization is attained via a (rst-
order) PI controller, whose structure is independent
of the number of the involved chemical reactions.
Hence, this paper must be seen as an approach to
give a rigorous proof of the robust stabilization ca-
pabilities of PI controllers, which are widely used
in the chemical industry.
2. System description
We will consider CSTRs described by the following
dierential equations:
c = 0(c
in
c) + Er(c, 1),

1 = 0(1
in
1) + H
T
r(c, 1) + (u 1),
(1)
where c R
n
is the vector of reactor concentrations
of the chemical species, c
in
R
n
is the vector of non-
negative and constant inlet concentrations, 1 R is
the reactor temperature, 1
in
R is the inlet tempera-
ture, r(c, 1) R
m
is the vector of nonnegative reac-
tion kinetics, E R
nm
is the stoichiometric matrix,
H R
m
is the vector of reaction heats, 0 is the dilu-
tion rate, is a heat transfer coecient and u is the
jacket temperature, which is taken as the control input.
In order to ensure well-posedness of the CSTR
model with respect to mass conservation, the follow-
ing assumptions are made [7,10,19]:
Assumption 1 (Principle of mass conservation).
There exists a positive vector c R
n
, such that
c
T
E = 0.
The equality c
T
E = 0 states that what is produced
by the reaction system is not larger than what is con-
sumed [10,19]. As a consequence of Assumption 1, it
can be shown that the polyhedral compact set C
p
=
{c R
n
: c
T
(c
in
c)60, c
i
0, 16i6n} is posi-
tively invariant under the dynamics of the CSTR [19,
Proposition 1].
Assumption 2. (i) r(c, 0)=0, which implies that there
is no reaction activity at the absolute zero (Kelvin)
temperature, and (ii) |r(c, 1)| j, for all c C
p
and
1 R
+
.
The rst part of the above assumption is related to
the thermodynamic consistency of the chemical kinet-
ics model [9].
Proposition 1. Assume that the jacket temperature
u(t) is positive and bounded, for all t 0. Under
Assumption 1, there exists a temperature 1
1
0 such
that the interval of temperatures (0, 1
1
) is a positively
invariant domain.
Proof. From Assumption 2(i), we have that

1 =
01
in
+ u 0, for 1 = 0 and all c C
p
. On
the other hand, Assumption 2(ii) implies that

1 0(1
in
1) + j + (u
m
1) for all c C
p
,
where u
m
=max
t0
u(t) . Take 1
1
def
=(01
in
+j+
u
m
)}(0+j). Then

1 0, for all c C
p
and 1 1
1
.
These arguments prove that the domain is positively
invariant.
The compact set D
p
= C
p
[0, 1
1
] can be taken
as the physical domain of existence of the CSTR. In
J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225 221
actual industrial applications, initial conditions to be
stabilized are contained in a neighborhood W D
p
of
the operating point. In this way, and from a practical
viewpoint, temperature stabilization of chemical reac-
tors is actually a problem of robust stabilization on
compacta.
3. Control problem statement
The control problem under consideration is to sta-
bilize the reactor temperature at an arbitrary set point
1
r
0, with respect to a given compact set of ini-
tial conditions W D
p
. The control problem will be
studied under the following additional assumptions.
Assumption 3 (Minimum-phase assumption). The
isothermal dynamics c = 0(c
in
c) + Er(c, 1
r
) are
globally asymptotically stable at the single equilib-
rium point c C
p
.
Assumption 4. Only uid owrates (0) and tempera-
tures (1, 1
in
and u) are measured.
Assumption 5. The vector of reaction kinetics r(c, 1)
is an unknown function and C
2
with respect to its
arguments.
Assumption 6. The jacket temperature is restricted
to take values into the domain [u
min
, u
max
], where
0 u
min
u u
max
and the nominal input u is given
by u = [0(1
in
1
r
) + H
T
r( c, 1
r
) 1
r
]}.
Remark 1. Some comments regarding the above as-
sumptions are in order. (i) Several industrial chemi-
cal reaction systems are minimum-phase in the sense
of the Assumption 3 [7], including catalytic reactions
of the petrochemical industry. (ii) Temperatures are
routinely measured in the industry; temperature mea-
surement devices are inexpensive and highly accurate.
Concentrations are rarely measured because measure-
ment devices (chromatographs, etc.) are quite expen-
sive and in most cases, the measurements require an
unacceptable long period, which can be unsuitable for
reactor stabilization. (iii) Although modeling of reac-
tion kinetics is a very active research area [9], the com-
puted models are often highly uncertain. Assumption
5 considers the worst case where a reaction kinetics
model is unavailable. (iv) Finally, due to limitations
in cooling}heating equipment, the jacket temperature
is subjected to saturation constraints. In actual indus-
trial applications, the operation margin u
max
u
min
is
of the order of 80 K.
4. Design of a state feedback
Let us introduce the change of coordinates x =c c
and , = 1

1. In this coordinate frame, system (1)
can be written as follows:
x = 0(x
in
x) + ER(x, ,),
, =t
1
n
, + H
T
R(x, ,) + [(1
r
) + u,
(2)
where x
in
=c
in
c, R(x, ,) =r(x + c, , +1
r
), t
1
n
=
0 + 0 and [(1
r
) =0(1
in
1
r
) +1
r
. The physical
domain D
p
=C
p
[0, 1
1
] is consequently mapped into
the translated physical domain D

p
=C

p
[1
r
, 1
1
1
r
],
where C

p
={x R
n
: x = c c, c C
p
}.
It is noted that the I}O map u , has relative de-
gree one. Consider that the desired closed-loop per-
formance is specied through the reference model
, =t
1
c
,, where t
c
0 is a prescribed closed-loop
time constant. This closed-loop behavior can be at-
tained by linearizing the input}output map u , via
the following state feedback function:
u = [(x, ,), (3)
where
[(x, ,) = [ H
T
R(x, ,) [(1
r
) + (t
1
n
t
1
c
),]}.
(4)
Proposition 2. The closed-loop systemformed by the
CSTR (2) and the feedback function (3), (4) is glob-
ally asymptotically stable about the origin with re-
spect to the physical domain D

p
.
Proof. The controlled temperature dynamics , =
t
1
c
, are globally asymptotically stable. The result
can be easily established by using Assumption 3 and
Lemma A.1 in [19].
To accomplish for bounded input constraint
(Assumption 6), a saturated version of the control
law (3) will be considered [1]:
u = Sat([(x, ,)), (5)
where the saturation function is given by
Sat(t) =

u
max
if tu
max
,
t if u
min
t u
max
,
u
min
if t6u
min
.
(6)
222 J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225
The resulting closed-loop system is
: = [
0
(:), (7)
where : = (x
T
, ,)
T
R
n+1
and
[
0
(:)
=

0(x
in
x) + ER(x, ,)
t
1
n
,+H
T
R(x, ,)+[(1
r
)+Sat([(x, ,))

.
It is likely that in some cases, control input satura-
tions might defeat the global stabilization property [1].
However, preservation of the asymptotic stability of
the origin under the saturated feedback (5) is ensured
by the assumption that u
min
u u
max
[1]. In fact,
Sat([(x, ,))=[(x, ,) is satised in a neighborhood of
the origin. Let O
0
R
n+1
be the region of attraction of
the origin for the system (7). The set O
0
is positively
invariant and all trajectories of the closed-loop system
(7) starting into O
0
converge asymptotically to the
origin. If D

p
O
0
, we will say that the closed-loop
system (7) is GAS with respect to the physical
domain D

p
.
Fact 1. By applying a converse Lyapunov theorem
(see [16] for example), we know the existence of a
C
1
function J : O
0
R
+
which is positive-denite
on O
0
\ {0}, proper on O
0
and satises
:
1
(|:|)6J(:),

J
(7)
Q(:),
where the function :
1
: R
+
R
+
is strictly increasing
and onto and the function Q: O
0
R
+
is continuous
and positive-denite on O
0
\ {0}.
In the next section, we will show that any compact
set of initial conditions contained in O
0
can be driven
to the origin by means of an error-actuated rst-order
compensator.
5. Design of a dynamic output feedback
Let p(t) be an estimate of the modeling error. Then,
the certainty equivalence control law becomes
u = Sat((,, p)), (8)
where
(x, p) = [ p [(1
r
) + (t
1
n
t
1
c
),]}. (9)
To construct an estimator for the modeling error
signal p(t), let us represent the system (5) as an
extended-state system in the following form:
x = 0(x
in
x) + ER(x, ,),
, =t
1
n
, + p + [(1
r
) + u,
p = I(x, ,, u),
(10)
where I(x, ,, u) is the time derivative of the modeling
error signal p(t) = H
T
R(x(t), ,(t)) and is given by
I(x, ,, u) = H
T
[(c
x
R)[
1
(x, ,) + (c
,
R)[
2
(x, ,, u)],
(11)
where [
1
(x, ,)=0(x
in
x)+ER(x, ,) and [
2
(x, ,, u)=
t
1
n
, + H
T
R(x, ,) + [(1
r
) + u. It is noted that,
since the modeling error signal p(t) is unknown, its
time derivative I(x(t), ,(t), u(t)) is correspondingly
unknown. In the state-space representation (10), the
modeling error is seen as a new state whose dynamics
can be reconstructed from measurements of the sys-
tem temperatures 1, 1
in
and u. In fact, we have that
p(t)= ,(t)+t
1
n
,(t)[(1
r
)u(t), which evidences
a kind of strong observability [5] of the modeling error
signal p(t). We can take advantage of this observabil-
ity property to propose an observer-based estimator
for the modeling error signal p(t).
Let o
m
= , + t
1
n
, [(1
r
) u be an equiva-
lent measured output. Note that o
m
depends only on
measured signals and the output time derivative.
Moreover, o
m
(t) = p(t), for all t0. To estimate the
modeling error signal p(t), the following reduced-order
observer is proposed:

p = t
1
e
(o
m
p) (12)
where t
e
0 is the estimation time constant. Since
o
m
(t) = ,(t) +t
1
n
,(t) [(1
r
) u(t), we have that

p = t
1
e
( , + t
1
n
, [(1
r
) u p). (13)
Introduce the variable w=t
e
p,. Then, the estimator
(13) is implemented as
w = t
1
n
, [(1
r
) u t
1
e
(w + ,),
p = t
1
e
(w + ,).
(14)
This estimator can be initialized as follows. Since the
signal p(t) is unknown, the initial estimate p(0) = 0
can be taken, so that w(0) =,(0).
Proposition 3. The control lawgiven by the feedback
function (8) and the modeling error estimator (14)
is equivalent to a PI controller with antireset wind
(ARW) scheme.
J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225 223
Proof. Take
u
c
def
= (x, p) = [ p [(1
r
) + (t
1
n
t
1
c
),]}
(15)
as the computed control input and u = Sat(u
c
) as the
actual control input. From (9) and (13), we obtain that
the computed control input is given by
u
c
=
1
t
e
s + 1
u
t
e
s
(t
e
s + 1)
[(1
r
)
+
t
e
(t
1
n
t
1
c
t
1
e
)s t
1
c
(t
e
s + 1)
,, (16)
where s denotes the Laplace variable. If the control
input is not subjected to saturations, then u = u
c
. In
this case, the computed control input becomes
u
c
=[(1
r
)} + K
c

1 +
1
t
I
s

, (17)
which is a control law composed by the precompen-
sator [(1
r
)} and by a standard PI compensator with
control gain K
c
and integral time t
I
0 given by
K
c
= (t
1
e
+ t
1
c
t
1
n
)},
t
I
= t
e
t
c
(t
1
e
+ t
1
c
t
1
n
).
(18)
In the general case where the computed control input is
subjected to saturations, the corresponding controller
equations can be written as follows:
u
c
=[(1
r
)}
+K
c

, + t
1
I

t
0

, +
t
I
K
c
t
e
[u
c
u]

do

(19)
which shows that the proposed control law contains
an ARW scheme of feedback nature [14] given by
t
I
K
c
t
e
[u
c
u]. (20)
In this way, when the control input is saturated, the
above feedback signal drives the error u
c
u to zero by
recomputing the integral such that the controller output
u
c
is exactly at the saturation limit. This prevents the
controller from winding up [14].
We conclude that the modeling error estimation
scheme (14) endows the proposed controller with a
natural ARW structure. By virtue of this structure, the
rst-order lter (14) is able to provide an asymptotic
estimate of the modeling error signal p(t) in spite of
control input saturations.
Remark 2. If and t
n
are interpreted respectively as
the identied high-frequency gain and open-loop time
constant of a given plant, the equations in (18) provide
an interesting (t
c
, t
e
)-parameterization of the control
gain and integral time for standard PI control. Such
parameterization is quite interesting because it pro-
vides a conguration for the design of better, faster
and more ecient tuning procedures. In fact, the tun-
ing of t
c
and t
e
is particularly easy to carry out in view
of the fact that, up to the point where the inuence
of nonmodeled plant behavior is no longer negligible,
the velocity of response of the closed-loop system in-
creases monotonically with t
c
and the sensitivity of
the closed-loop systemin the face of load-disturbances
and uncertainties increases monotonically with t
e
.
5.1. Stability analysis
To study the stability properties of the controlled
CSTR, let us compute the closed-loop equations. To
this end, introduce the estimation error ,
def
= p p. Then
u=Sat((,, p,))=Sat((,, H
T
R(x, ,),)), which
together with (11) give
E(x, ,, ,)
def
= I(x, ,, Sat((,, H
T
R(x, ,) ,)))
= H
T
[(c
x
R)[
1
(x, ,) + (c
,
R)
[
2
(x, ,, Sat((,, H
T
R(x, ,) ,)))].
(21)
Note that (,, H
T
R(x, ,))) [(x, ,) (see Eq. (4)).
Thus, the certainty equivalence control law (8) be-
comes the ideal control law (5) as , 0. In this way,
from Eqs. (5), (7) and (10) and using the fact that
p(t) o
m
(t), the resulting closed-loop equations can
be written as follows:
: = [
0
(:) + b
1
[Sat((,, H
T
R(x, ,) ,))
Sat([(x, ,))],
t
e
, =, + t
e
E(x, ,, ,),
(22)
where b
1
=[0, 0, . . . , 0, 1]
T
R
n+1
. For small values of
the estimation time constant t
e
0, the closed-loop
system (22) is a singularly perturbed system with
: R
n+1
and , R as the fast and the slow vari-
ables, respectively. Furthermore, as a consequence
of the global boundedness of the control input func-
tion Sat((,, p)), the right-hand side of the slow
variable equation is a bounded function of the fast
224 J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225
variable , R. The stability of this special structure of
singularly perturbed nonlinear system was studied by
Esfandiari and Khalil [6,13] in a work dealing with
the output stabilization problem of nonlinear systems
via high-gain observers (see also [17]).
Our main result can be described in the following
theorem.
Theorem 4. Consider the CSTR described as in (1)
and suppose that the Assumptions 16 are satised.
Given any compact set W contained in the interior of
O
0
R
n+1
and a prescribed closed-loop time constant
t
c
0, there exists a maximum estimation time con-
stant t

e
for the PI controller with antireset windup
scheme (8), (14) such that, for all 0 t
e
t

e
, the
equilibrium point ( c, 1
r
) R
n+1
of the closed-loop
system is asymptotically stable and the set W is in-
cluded in the region of attraction.
Proof. Since the Lyapunov function J(:) is proper on
O
0
R
n+1
, there exists a positive constant :
2
such that
W H
def
={:: J(:)6:
2
+1}. Introduce the following
functions:

[(:, ,) = b
1
[Sat((,, H
T
R(x, ,) ,))
Sat([(x, ,))],
(:, ,) = E(x, ,, ,).
Note that

[(:, 0)=0 and (0, 0)=0. It can be veried
that there exists a positive number v
1
and a bounded
continuous function 0 with 0(0) = 0 satisfying
|

[(:, ,)|60(|,|)
| (:, ,)|6v
1
|,|
for all (:, ,) HR.
On the other hand, since p(0) = 0, we have that the
initial condition ,(0) satises |,(0)|6v
2
, where v
2
=
max
:W
|H
T
R(x, ,)| and independent of t
e
. It
follows from the robust observer lemma ([17, Lemma
2.4]; see also [13, Theorem 1]) that there exists a max-
imum estimation time constant t

e
0 such that, for
all 0 t
e
t

e
, the origin of the closed-loop system
(22) is asymptotically stable and all trajectories start-
ing in W converge to the origin as t . Moreover,
:(t) :(t; t
e
) uniformly as t
e
0, for t t
1
0,
where :(t) and :(t; t
e
) are respectively the trajecto-
ries of the closed-loop system under state and output
feedback, and initial condition :(0) = :
0
W.
Remark 3. The above result gives a regional
(semiglobal) stabilization result with respect to the
region of attraction O
0
, under state feedback and
known chemical kinetics. The result shows that all
trajectories starting in any compact set W contained
in O
0
can be stabilized via output feedback despite
the fact that the reaction kinetics are unknown. In
other words, almost any initial condition stabilized
via state feedback control with perfect knowledge can
be stabilized via a PI control with ARW scheme.
Remark 4. In our control problem framework, sev-
eral theoretical questions are still open. In this work,
the uncertainties were related to the chemical kinetics.
In actual industrial applications, uncertainties due to
the heat transfer coecient must be also considered.
In fact, the heat transfer coecient is a complicated
function of heat transfer surface conditions, physical
properties of the uids (density, viscosity, etc.) and
temperature [2]. The ideas presented in this work can
also be used to handle uncertainties in the heat trans-
fer coecient by taking the modeling error signal as
p(t)
def
= H
T
R(x(t), ,(t)) + ( )u(t), where 0 is
an estimate of the real heat transfer coecient . In
this case, the resulting output feedback controller is
given as above (Eqs. (8), (9) and (14)) with instead
the real parameter . The PI feedback control structure
with ARW presented in this work is also capable to
deal with uncertainties in the heat transfer coecient
. The proof of this result can be made along the lines
the proof of the Theorem 1.
6. Conclusions
In this work, we studied the stabilization of a class
continuous-stirred tank reactors (CSTR) under the as-
sumption of unknown chemical kinetics and control
input saturations. The newidea we proposed for robust
stabilization is based on modeling error compensation
techniques and consists of interpreting the modeling
error signal as a new state, whose dynamics are ob-
servable from temperature measurements. In this way,
we used a reduced-order observer to estimate the mod-
eling error signal, which is subsequently used in the
saturated version of an I}O feedback linearizing feed-
back. The resulting controller is shown to be equiva-
lent to a standard PI controller with antireset windup
scheme. Our stability analysis showed that, in the limit
as the estimation time constant t
e
0, such a stan-
dard PI controller is able to recover the closed-loop
performance under state feedback and perfect knowl-
edge of the chemical kinetics.
J. Alvarez-Ramirez, R. Femat / Systems & Control Letters 38 (1999) 219225 225
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