DIGI STEAM Digitalization in the energy sector: Identification of digitalization possibilities in the energy sector especially in the field of steam supply systems

Project Number 429

Without any doubt, digitalization is revolutionizing every aspect of our society as well as the industrial sector. This revolution has been triggered by the recent developments within the area of digital basic technologies, such as the internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence, and cyber-physical systems, to mention a few. Buzzwords like Industry 4.0 (I4.0) or Energy 4.0 (E4.0) picture a vision of the future industry and energy system, which are working under the intense usage of these basic technologies and promise an unprecedented degree of networking, system flexibility and automation. The core concept of these systems is the consequent integration of the real/physical world into the virtual/digital world. The digital twin (DT) as a high-fidelity digital mirror of its physical twin is a promising way to reach this convergence using a holistic approach.

The digital twin as a so-called "enabling technology" provides an important tool for companies in different sectors in order to cope with the changing environment they are currently working in due to the digital revolution, and it enables them to increase the benefits, reliability and productivity of their industrial system. To further support the design and implementation of a DT in practice, concrete application concepts or reference architecture models are needed to integrate the DT into a structure in which the interaction with its physical mirror can be modelled and the utilization of this interaction can be outlined. Previous research within this area deals with different application concepts for different systems, but so far no comparable concept has been developed for a steam generator in literature.

Applying the theoretical fundamentals and basic definitions assessed in this project, a five-dimensional DT-Model (5D-DTM) for a steam generator is developed and presented. A steam generator, as one of the most important thermal energy systems is directly affected by the outlined paradigm shift in the industrial sector as well as the energy system (I4.0 and E4.0) and has to consistently work within these more dynamic settings. For operators, these increasing loads pose a great challenge to still ensure the economical operation of their systems.
Therefore, these difficult conditions are ideally suited to illustrate the advantages of a DT. With the help of the 5D-DTM of a steam generator, a holistic Boiler Prognostics and System Health Management (Boiler-PHM) is illustrated and it is shown that system monitoring, system prediction and system optimization can be greatly improved.

The project was carried out from July 2019 to November 2020 by Lukas Kasper, Thomas Bacher und Dr Felix Birkelbach under the direction of Professor René Hofmann at the Institute for Energy Systems and Thermodynamics (Research Area Industrial Energy Systems) of the Vienna Technical University. The VGB Scientific Advisory Board supervised the investigations.

Results are complementary to the study DigiPoll@Energy (VGB Research project 428) carried out simultaneously.