Simulation systems: choose the right one

Modern chemical-technological processes are so complex that to change them you have to use not only analytics, but also the results of simulation. In this case, it is necessary to work with a model of a physical object and investigate its properties and behavior in any situation on a model. There are many software packages for this. To understand the specifics of such software, I collected analytical information about the systems that are most common in the world and are popular by queries in Internet search engines. The results of the study are in this review. It will be useful to designers, technologists and machine gunners - all those who analyze technological processes, build their control systems, and perform engineering calculations of technological devices.


Experiment vs imitation


Working with a simulation model helps, firstly, to study objects more fully than during a real experiment (in practice, in principle, we will not be able to create all situations in order to investigate the properties and behavior of an object).

And secondly, simulation allows you to more effectively study, design and optimize the process: since working with the model takes into account the influence of many different parameters on the chemical process (CTP), the technologist will be able to find those qualitative and quantitative characteristics that will save time and money to change the CTP, as well as reduce the likelihood of errors.

For example, in the fuel industry, simulation software products are used for the processing of heavy sulphurous oil and oil refining. Application in the pharmaceutical industry is intended for modeling the reaction and periodic distillations of hydrocarbons.

Leading systems for modeling HTP


As part of the construction of an automatic heat supply control system for the enterprise (one of its complex processes), the specialists of the First Engineer company needed to study the technological process: analyze transient processes and identify critical technological areas, as well as analyze the possibilities of using a software product in the control system (to develop optimal operating modes of the heating system in automatic mode). So I had to study the market in search of a ready-made software tool. I share the results of the analysis with you. There will be many tables below.

When preparing an article for Habr, I tried to contact all manufacturers of the specified software and clarify the data, because over the past time they could improve their products. But the answer came only from GIBBS. Therefore, I will be glad for your clarifications in the comments.

Brief descriptions of solutions


Hysys designed to model CTs to optimize the design of circuitry solutions for the process. In addition to static modeling of technological schemes, the program allows in the same environment to perform dynamic modeling of individual processes and the entire technological chain, as well as to develop and debug process control schemes. It is possible to carry out calculations of the main structural characteristics of the equipment.

In 2002, Aspr Technologies acquired Hyprotech Ltd. Hysys is part of the AspenONE Engineering module package of the AspenONE package under the name Aspen Hysys.

Aspen Plus (development by Aspen Technologies) is intended for stationary modeling, design of chemical and technological production, equipment performance control, optimization and business planning in the field of hydrocarbon production and processing and petrochemicals.

gPROMS ModelBuilder is a simulation environment for stationary and dynamic systems, which is focused on applications in the processing industry.

The CHEMCAD software package is focused on the modeling of CTP. The package includes static modeling tools for the basic processes based on phase and chemical transformations, as well as tools for calculating the geometric dimensions and structural characteristics of the main apparatus.

Design II - WinSim Inc. Software Product - It has all the tools for complete modeling in gas and oil refining and includes a set of 880 different components.

PRO / II is a stationary mode simulator that improves design and operational analysis processes. The PRO / II simulator is designed for accurate mass and energy balance calculations for a wide range of manufacturing processes. Branches of application: oil refining, gas processing, petrochemistry, chemistry.

Promax It is a powerful and versatile software package for the design and optimization of gas processing, oil refining and chemical industries.

GIBBS It has the means to simulate the processes of field preparation of natural gases, including conventional low-temperature separation units, low-temperature expander units with partial or complete fractionation of liquid hydrocarbons, processes for the production of ethane and LPG, gas treatment processes with injection, collection and regeneration of hydrate formation inhibitors, field and factory preparation, and gas condensate and oil refining, including deethanization, stabilization and fractionation according to the fuel option, gas fractionation, natural gas liquefaction plants, and separation and purification of helium.

Modeling system "Comfort" - This is a tool for verification and design calculations of material and thermal balances of various chemical industries. "Comfort" consists of a control program and modules for calculating devices. A control program with a specific set of technological modules forms a subject-oriented modeling program that allows you to perform calculations for a specific class of chemical-technological schemes. The program has the means to calculate all the main fractionation processes for gas processing.

* Software systems in the table have various forms of licensing: local, network and free. The local license provides for the installation of the program on a specific computer, is authorized and works only on it. A network license is designed to install the product on several computers, but the number of simultaneous users should not exceed the number of licenses purchased. A free license is distributed to “familiarize” with the capabilities of the software, which have temporary or functional limitations.


System requirements


Each of the presented software products requires the minimum system requirements for its full-fledged work - the presence of Microsoft OS and a license.


Characteristics of software systems


In the Russian and foreign markets there are a lot of simulation tools for CTP with various functions and purposes. To assess the potential of the software product, several key characteristics were identified. The limitations of software capabilities immediately became apparent: a small functionality of interactive debuggers, a small number of typical models, the lack of structural modeling, a large error in the calculations, and others.

These limitations require the software user to have specialized knowledge in the mathematical description of processes and in programming.

The impossibility of real-time simulation and the impossibility of optimizing software taking into account various factors is a serious constraint for its use in automatic control systems for complex and fast-moving processes.

Unpromising are those software products that do not provide accurate and up-to-date information, which is especially important in conditions of fierce competition in terms of price / quality / quantity, energy consumption and production equipment operation efficiency.


Modules in the software package


The composition of software products includes ready-made modules that describe technological devices, physicochemical properties of components that make it possible to simplify the construction of technical solutions of the technological process for their calculations.

If the number of modules is limited, the software will not allow you to simulate complex technical solutions, since this requires continuous improvement of programs.


Software Interface


A key feature of any software is its user-friendly graphical interface, which reduces the labor required to perform certain functions and provides the result in an intuitive way for the user. The presence in the program of such features as graphical construction, an interactive debugger, documentation, allows to reduce the time for development of schemes.


The analysis made it possible to identify leaders in the framework of the task: these products combine the functions of modeling a technological process and optimizing the flow of processes in real time.

The task has not yet been fully resolved. The software product allowed us to find some optimal conditions for current processes and determine the main critical areas in the technological process. In order to more deeply investigate the flow of technological processes in the heat supply system, it is necessary to develop a mathematical description of the processes in individual sections of the technological solution, as well as find an opportunity to integrate the software product into the automatic control system.

Whatever solution you choose based on your tasks and capabilities, in conclusion I note: any software is designed to minimize the financial and time costs of building a CTP, but not a single software tool will give guaranteed results without specialists who have knowledge in the field of technology, mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Want to work in the company "First Engineer"?
We have published a number of vacancies on our website . Maybe we are looking for you.