Wim van Roy

PhD Candidate

Atlas Copco Airpower

Wim Van Roy graduated in mechatronic and robotic engineering from KU Leuven in July 2017. His interest in optimal control theory led him to the embedded controller team of Atlas Copco. As a cyber-physical systems engineer, he maintains and designs control algorithms for compressed air systems. In 2019, he started researching the use of model predictive control for compressed air systems.

Project description

The aim of the project is to design and develop a control framework to improve the overall efficiency of compressed air systems. These compressed air systems consist of compressors, air utility devices, piping, and buffer vessels. The goal of this system is to provide compressed air to several consumers. Each of these consumers may have specific requirements on this provided flow such as minimum pressure, temperature, or humidity. The compressors in this system each have their own so-called local controller that controls the flow or pressure, monitors sensors and controls the actuators of the compressors. However, most systems consist of multiple compressors and air utility devices requiring collaboration to achieve the control goals of these systems and thus typically require centralized controllers handling the overall system control. The centralized controllers optimize global energy efficiency and ensure equal running hours as well as other system requirements. In addition, this central controller allows the handling of new emerging applications with a stronger focus on high-quality airflows (such as extremely low humidity, marginal oil, or particle contamination). The broad scope of applications as well as the large variety of system topologies requires a flexible algorithm. Current control algorithms are not capable of supporting the complete range of applications nor achieve the minimum energy consumption for these systems. They are often tailored to specific applications with a fixed topology. Providing a unified framework handling a wide variety of applications will open new opportunities and allow for a cost-effective reduction of energy consumption for compressed air systems. This research is performed in close collaboration with Ramin Abbasi.