Sensors and controls are essential technologies that monitor and enhance the various plant components, leading to improved infrastructure while reducing operations and maintenance costs. Sensors can be placed across the plant and can measure different characteristics such as temperature, pressure, fluid composition, and the state of materials to inform operators of plant health.
This focus area seeks to create novel sensor concepts that can be embedded into several plant components using advanced manufacturing techniques. Cost-effective prototype technologies are designed and produced that can be rapidly reproduced for wide-scale distribution. Sensors provide the ability to monitor plant components and transmit data to a distributed network that to increase plant efficiency and reliability.
This focus area seeks to develop distributed control networks to process sensor data and permit decision-making. Systems are under development with fast dynamics for nonsteady-state, incorporating controls that are capable of handling inherently non-linear systems using real-time data. Distributed control networks allow for increased control of the power plant and are more robust than linear model predictive control algorithms.
Sensors and controls can be placed throughout the plant to monitor processes and improve plant reliability and efficiency. Example of existing challenges can be seen below.