Loading

Chemical Engineering

Nicolas Hudon

Assistant Professor

Tel: +1 (613) 533-2787
Fax: +1 (613) 533-6637
Email: nicolas.hudon@queensu.ca
Office: Dupuis Hall G10

Assistant Professor

Main

Research Interests

    • Process Systems Engineering
    • Chemical Process Control
    • Nonlinear Control
    • Distributed Control of Chemical Processes
    • Physics-based Control 

Education

2010

Ph.D.

Chemical Engineering

Queen's University

2004

M.Sc.A

Chemical Engineering

Polytechnique Montreal

2002

B. Ing.

Chemical Engineering

Polytechnique Montreal

Experience

2016 - ...

Assistant Professor

Chemical Engineering

Queen's University

2015 - 16

Visiting Researcher

Chemical Engineering

Queen's University

2012 - 15

Postdoctoral Fellow

INMA

UCL, Belgium

2010 - 12

Postdoctoral Fellow

Chemical Engineering

UNSW, Australia

Research Projects


Distributed Control and Estimation of Sustainable Chemical Process Systems

Due to growing financial and environmental pressures, the design and operation of sustainable processes is a central challenge to chemical engineering science and practice.  Sustainable energy production and effluent treatment processes need to be operate in a consistent and safe manner to meet ever-growing performance and environmental objectives.  To achieve consistent operation, several challenges need to be addressed in the design, operation, and control of sustainable chemical processes.  One issue lies in the fact that key process parameters, in particular transfer coefficients, are difficult to quantify, leading to poor results in process scale-up, optimization, and control. Moreover, process inputs (raw material) and process outputs (user demand) vary with respect to time.  It is thus difficult to derive suitable operation points for sustainable processes, rendering classical optimization and control techniques obsolete.  Finally, as sustainable processes are highly integrated to reduce effluents and energy consumption, those processes consist in networks of interconnected sub-processes exchanging mass and energy.  Different real-time process control strategies have been developed to operate chemical processes subjected to varying operation conditions and evolving process demands.  To achieve process intensification and process performance, chemical process systems have evolved in such a way that data acquisition, data exchange between controllers, and supervision systems are now completely integrated with the interconnected sub-processes.  The novelty of this research consists in using particular physics-based model representations of systems to extract essential dynamical features driving the behavior of a given chemical process. As demonstrated in previous research, it is possible,through physics-based system representations, to simplify distributed control design and plantwide analysis of interconnected chemical sub-processes exchanging mass and energy.  The objective of this research consists in developing those results for sustainable process systems, that is, uncertain, interconnected, and time-varying systems.

 

Physics-based Approaches for Process Systems Engineering

As the complexity of physical processes under study increased in the last decades, research in the field of PSE, and in particular process control, sought to develop new strategies, and generally speaking, more evolved model-based frameworks, to achieve systems analysis and design to meet (dynamic) performance and robustness objectives.  One route toward this general objective was to develop detailed conservation laws for mass, momentum, energy, and entropy balances, with suitable constitutive relationships.  As a result, a paradox emerged from a systems science standpoint.  These detailed models were often of limited applicability in Process Systems Engineering because of their complexity.  This led some researchers to consider physical models with known particular structures in order to facilitate analysis and design while retaining a maximum of modeling details and accuracy.  Analysis and control design for systems described using potential-based representations, in particular Port-Hamiltonian Systems (PHS), emerged as a viable modeling, simulation and control framework for finite and infinite dimensional systems and both deterministic and stochastic systems.  This approach is now central to nonlinear control theory. Stability analysis, feedback control design, and observer design are greatly simplified for dynamical systems or interconnected systems modeled or re-expressed as PHS.  Analysis carried on PHS models are not limited to control theory, as exemplified by applications from the field of physics-based numerical integration, where conservation principles are enforced to improve known numerical methods. Applications of PSE methods to irreversible systems, for example reacting systems and systems generating entropy, pose additional challenges.  The objective of this project is to develop a framework for the modeling, analysis, optimal design, and control design of nonlinear physical systems subjected to irreversible evolution constraints from the field of Process Systems Engineering (PSE).  The proposed research seeks to consider interconnected dynamical systems following general conservation laws.  In the proposed research, these dynamical systems may be described by ordinary differential equations (finite dimensional systems), partial differential equations (infinite dimensional systems), stochastic differential equations, and/or algebraic differential equations.  As an extension of previous studies on chemical process systems in the context of nonlinear feedback control design, the central tool to be considered in the achievement of this objective is to extend methods developed for mechanical systems to chemical systems to solve problems from the field of PSE.  Expected developments would seek to cover, in a unified way, the key relevant subfields of PSE:  Modeling and identification; Design and otpimization; Process control and on-line estimation; Scheduling and fault-tolerant design; and Numerical methods.

 

Cyber-Physical Systems Analysis and Control

This project is concerned with the viability of controlled physical systems coupled with communication structures, referred to as Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS).  Estimation and control algorithms developed in previous research took advantage in the possibility of controllers to share information.  This approach was successful in controlling process systems in a distributed fashion and dealing with several interconnected sub-processes exchanging mass and energy.  In previous work, dissipative-based analysis exploiting physical knowledge and available communication between controllers was considered, as modular analysis of sub-processes is suitable for interconnected processes.  However, in practice, the signals exchanged by the controllers might be corrupted, intermittent, or noisy.  In this project, we consider the Network Control Systems and seek to assess how robust distributed control laws with respect to communication limitations in the context of chemical process control.  The goal is the derive estimation and control algorithms that ensure the safe and economically sound operation of CPS and identify key chemical units where communication is a critical issue.  This project is also expected to consider the problem of cyber-security in the context of chemical processes.

 

 

Publications

Coming soon...  in the meantime, please refer to Google Scholar.

Teaching

Winter 2017:  CHEE210 --- Thermodynamic Properties of Fluids.