Developing a dynamic control system for mine compressed air networks
Van Heerden, Schalk Willem
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Mines in general, make use of compressed air systems for daily operational activities. Compressed air on mines is traditionally distributed in two typical fashions. Firstly, direct pipe feed systems for single shafts or compressed air ring networks where multiple shafts are supplied with compressed air from an integral system. These compressed air networks make use of number compressors feeding the ring from various locations in the network. While mines have sophisticated control systems to control these compressors they are not dynamic. Compressors are selected on static priorities for a chosen time period of the day. While this is acceptable for some days it is not always the ideal solution. The compressed air demand of the ring is dynamic and it is difficult to estimate the future need of the system. The Dynamic Compressor Selector (DCS) is described as a solution to this problem. DCS is a computer based control system featuring a Graphical User Interface (GUI). The aim of DCS is to dynamically calculate a control pressure set-point, given the demand for compressed air as well as choose the optimal compressors to supply the given compressed air. This will reduce the power requirement of the compressed air ring as well as reduce compressor cycling. DCS was implemented and tested on a single mine compressed air system. Achieved results were 1.8 MW in electricity savings as well as the added benefit of reduced cycling. This saving results in a cost saving of R3.7 million per annum. The problems and shortfalls of the system are also discussed as well as possible future directions for moving forward.
- Engineering