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Plotting Linear System Characteristics of a Chemical Reactor

This example shows how to plot linearization of a Simulink model at particular conditions during simulation. The Simulink Control Design software provides blocks that you can add to Simulink models to compute and plot linear systems during simulation. In this example, a linear system of a continuous-stirred chemical reactor is computed and plotted on a Bode plot as the reactor transitions through different operating points.

Chemical Reactor Model

Open the Simulink model of the chemical reactor:


The reactor has three inputs and two outputs:

  • The FeedCon0, FeedTemp0 and Coolant Temp blocks model the feed concentration, feed temperature, and coolant temperature inputs respectively.

  • The T and CA ports of the CSTR block model the reactor temperature and residual concentration outputs respectively.

This example focuses on the response from coolant temperature, Coolant Temp, to residual concentration, CA, when the feed concentration and feed temperature are constant.

For more information on modeling reactors, see Seborg, D.E. et al., "Process Dynamics and Control", 2nd Ed., Wiley, pp.34-36.

Plotting the Reactor Linear Response

The reactor model contains a Bode Plot block from the Simulink Control Design Linear Analysis Plots library. The block is configured with:

  • A linearization input at the coolant temperature Coolant Temp.

  • A linearization output at the residual concentration CA.

The block is also configured to perform linearizations on the rising edges of an external trigger signal. The trigger signal is computed in the Linearization trigger signal block which produces a rising edge when the residual concentration is:

  • At a steady state value of 2

  • In a narrow range around 5

  • At a steady state value of 9

Double-clicking the Bode Plot block lets you view the block configuration.

Clicking Show Plot in the Block Parameters dialog box opens a Bode Plot window which shows the response of the computed linear system from Coolant Temp to CA. To compute the linear system and view its response, simulate the model using one of the following:

  • Click the Run button in the Bode Plot window.

  • Select Simulation > Run in the Simulink model window.

  • Type the following command:


The Bode plot shows the linearized reactor at three operating points corresponding to the trigger signals defined in the Linearization trigger signal block:

  • At 5 sec, the linearization is for a low residual concentration.

  • At 38 sec, the linearization is for a high residual concentration.

  • At 27 sec, the linearization is as the reactor transitions from a low to high residual concentration.

The linearizations at low and high residual concentrations are similar but the linearization during the transition has a significantly different DC gain and phase characteristics. At low frequencies, the phase differs by 180 degrees, indicating the presence of either an unstable pole or zero.

Logging the Reactor Linear Response

The Logging tab in the Bode Plot block specifies that the computed linear systems be saved as a workspace variable.

The linear systems are logged in a structure with time and values fields.

LinearReactor = 

  struct with fields:

         time: [3x1 double]
       values: [1x1x3x1 ss]
    blockName: 'scdcstr/Bode Plot'

The values field stores the linear systems as an array of LTI state-space systems. For more information, see Model Arrays.

You can retrieve the individual systems by indexing into the values field.

P1 = LinearReactor.values(:,:,1);
P2 = LinearReactor.values(:,:,2);
P3 = LinearReactor.values(:,:,3);

The Bode plot of the linear system at time 27 sec, when the reactor transitions from low to high residual concentration, indicates that the system could be unstable. Displaying the linear systems in pole-zero format confirms this:

ans =
  From input "Coolant Temp" to output "CSTR/2":
  (s^2 + 2.215s + 2.415)
Continuous-time zero/pole/gain model.

ans =
  From input "Coolant Temp" to output "CSTR/2":
  (s+0.7567) (s-0.3484)
Continuous-time zero/pole/gain model.

ans =
  From input "Coolant Temp" to output "CSTR/2":
  (s+0.8542) (s+0.7528)
Continuous-time zero/pole/gain model.

Close the Simulink model:


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