Flowsheet Monitoring interfaceA paper by researchers at Politechno di Milano, Università degli Studi di Milano and A.V. Topchiev Institute of Petrochemical Synthesis has been published today in Computers & Chemical Engineering.

The authors recognize that “the CAPE-OPEN standard has been widely adopted and integrated within PMEs. Applications of CAPE-OPEN standard in the field of PSE include, for instance, the modelling of thermodynamic properties and the modelling of new unit operations.”. CO-LaN is pleased to see that the organizations mentioned above are well aware of what can be achieved with CAPE-OPEN.

The authors state that the novelty of their work relies on the use of a different standard and middleware than CAPE-OPEN and the middleware it is implemented with. The authors adopt Microsoft Excel to manage all communications between the PRO/II PME and the PMC (a catalytic reactor unit) which is written in C++.

Their decision to favor Microsoft Excel against CAPE-OPEN is based on the following rationale: “home-made codes developed by engineers during R&D activities (e.g.,regression of kinetic and thermodynamic models) could by directly embed within process simulators without the need for further modifications. Moreover, the use of the excel unit operation module allows directly post-processing and reporting simulation results in tables and graphs.”

While the authors are making a good point that home-made codes developed by engineers need to be easily embed within process simulators, they are not complete in their assessment.

It is possible to set up the model of a Unit Operation in Microsoft Excel using the wrapper provided by AmsterCHEM and then to plug it into any process simulator as a CAPE-OPEN Unit Operation. If the reactor model is already written in C++, so by researchers well versed in that programming language, wrapping of such a code as a CAPE-OPEN Unit Operation is easily achieved when being helped by the C++ sample code provided by CO-LaN. There is even a CAPE-OPEN Unit Operation Wizard for C++ which has been developed by IFPEN and made available to CO-LaN members.

Moreover, it is not made obvious by the authors that, using Microsoft Excel, the development of the link between the Process Modelling Component representing an advanced reactor model and PRO/II, is in any way easier that relying on CAPE-OPEN. Especially since PRO/II is implementing a CAPE-OPEN Unit Operation socket.