Albioma Albioma

Maximum efficiency in bioenergy generation

See how Leaf, i.Systems' Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution for advanced industrial process control, helps Albioma significantly reduce variability, improve operation availability and increase energy exported

48% reduction in boiler pressure variability
30% reduction in boiler temperature variability
+50% reduction in industrial operation downtime
1.400 MWh increase in energy exported

Albioma

Operational efficiency is essential for every industry. This attribute is even more important for the Albioma. An independent producer of renewable energies, since 2014, the company has implemented its biomass model in thermoelectric plants in Brazil, a market considered strategic for its expansion plans, supplying agro-industrial partners and selling energy through the distribution network.

With almost 400 mills, the country is the largest producer of sugar and ethanol in the world, which represents a strong development potential for the production of renewable energy from sugarcane bagasse.

Currently, Albioma has an installed capacity of 242 MW generated from four biomass thermoelectric plants in Brazil: Codora, Esplanada, Rio Pardo and Vale do Paraná. In all of its plants in the country, the company uses Leaf, i.Systems' Artificial Intelligence (AI) system for advanced multivariable control, to reduce variability and increase efficiency in energy generation processes.

Innovative model of partnerships

Albioma has an innovative business model, which consists of the acquisition of the cogeneration plant for the sugar and alcohol plants. Thus, the company is able to locally transform bagasse into energy thanks to units located close to the farms. This model allows us to produce base renewable energy, available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

A part of this generated energy supplies the plant's agro-industrial operation, which becomes a partner in the business, while the surplus is sold on the market by Albioma through the national distribution network.

This way of operating requires that the process be highly efficient to guarantee the company's results, after all, the company's performance is linked to the ability to extract the maximum efficiency from the process to ensure the maximum volume of marketable energy.

Precisely for this reason, every time the cogeneration unit of a plant takes over, one of the first steps is to update (revamp) the physical infrastructure and equipment of the operation. Such modernization, by itself, already considerably raises the plant's operating levels.

The more efficient the process, the better the performance. With that in mind, Albioma began studying advanced control technologies. When evaluating traditional tools, he saw that he needed a modern solution with an innovative approach. It was then that conversations with i.Systems, a specialist in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for industry, began.

Challenge
See more
Stability Challenge

The generation of bioelectricity in a sugarcane mill takes place through a process called cogeneration, which aims to make the most of the raw material's energy capacity. Biomass energy is used to produce electrical energy through the heat generated by the combustion of organic matter.

During the harvest, the cane is crushed at the beginning of the production process and the bagasse, a by-product of the crushing, is burned in the boiler to generate steam. In the off-season, the sugarcane straw is mixed with the excess bagasse and burned in the boiler with the same objective of generating steam.

High pressure steam is used by turbogenerators to generate energy, while exhaust (low pressure) is consumed as a utility by plant processes. In the case of Albioma, part of the electricity is directed to the partner plant's internal consumption, while the surplus is exported based on the integration of the generation system with the national electricity grid.

To ensure greater quality in the final product, it is necessary to guarantee optimal functioning of the generators, which is only possible through an intake steam at ideal temperature and pressure conditions, in accordance with the projected parameters. With more stable steam generated by the boiler, all processes benefit, which increases the plant's energy generation efficiency.

The challenge of maintaining the quality of steam in the unit is due to some conditions intrinsic to the operation of sugar and alcohol plants: variations in the characteristics of the sugarcane bagasse burned in the boiler (moisture and fiber content) directly affect the amount of heat generated; variations in the demand for steam by the production process cause changes in energy generation through adjustments that even compromise the pace of production in some situations.

Solution
See more
Stabilizing cogeneration

The company has begun validating the application of Leaf, an AI solution for advanced multivariate process control, to control boiler outlet pressure and temperature at its most problematic thermal power plant. The technology started to run in the plant and it was possible to see the software anticipating variations in the process demand and adjusting to different types and qualities of burned biomass, optimizing energy generation.

“Leaf was the technology that presented us with the lowest risk, with a very interesting business model”, says Paulo Schmidt, Corporate Operations Manager at Albioma, who highlights the solution validation process, as i.Systems makes a base study on the client's operation and identifies if and what gains the Leaf application will bring when installed.

In the opinion of Leandro Magno de Souza, Plant Manager at Albioma at the Esplanada and Codora Units, the preparation of this business case helps to understand the financial return and, in addition to indicating where there will be immediate returns, it can provide clues to other points in the network and controls existing ones can be improved independently of the Leaf.

On the factors that influenced the decision for Leaf, Paulo Schmidt mentions that, in addition to the technical capacity of the technology, the hiring business model made the difference. As it is software as a service (SaaS), Leaf is consumed from the payment of a monthly fee, and is entered in the accounting as an operating cost (OpEx).

“It's all very dynamic. After activating the solution, the technology has been tuning in for a while and the results have started to appear and can be optimized”, comments Paulo Schmidt.

Operating on ideal setpoints

Sunflower, an optimization module from i.Systems embedded in the Leaf platform, is used to increase the average vapor pressure, promoting, in conjunction with the rise in temperature levels, both in the harvest and between harvests, the increase in enthalpy and stability of the steam.

With the application of advanced and multivariable strategies, control of exhaust pressure and energy exported to the grid were also integrated. The Leaf started to act on the ideal power setpoints of the turbogenerators and on the extraction pressure of one of the condensing turbines.

Depending on the operating scenario, steam demand and desired export, Leaf explored the most efficient configuration among the equipment, promoting the best possible use of steam for power generation and raising the exhaust quality needed by consumers.

“Now we are reaping results”, comments Paulo Schmidt. Today, the Leaf has been expanded and is in use at Albioma's four units in Brazil. With the sum of the approaches (revamp + Leaf) the company practically doubles the installed generation capacity that existed at the plant before the entry of Albioma. “The technology from I.Systems arrives bringing even more stability and control to the process, reducing variability and improving setpoints, which generates an increase in benefits”, he comments.

In addition to the AI ​​solution for advanced process control and the optimization module, the company also uses Webmonitor, a technology that delivers real-time operation data to the Albioma team. “For us, it is important to monitor processes in real time from a distance and be able to talk to the plant about the variations”, he says.

Result
See more
Direct and indirect benefits

With Leaf, Albioma was able to reduce the boiler pressure and temperature variability by 48% and 30%, respectively. “The great concept I learned is that all variability generates loss”, comments Paulo Schmidt, adding: “If there is a system that reduces variability, improve setpoints, it would certainly bring a gain”.

In fact, the variability reduction brought by the Leaf made it possible to optimize parameters, increasing the averages of the variables by 2 ºC and 0.6 kgf/cm². With stable and quality steam, through actions integrated in the cogeneration control grids, the variability in steam flow was reduced by 68%.

These improvements, together with better load balancing of turbogenerators, also allowed the cogeneration process to generate electricity more efficiently and in greater quantities. During the harvest period, the average specific consumption of generators was reduced by 0.8% and annual energy generation gains were above 1,400 MWh.

One of these qualitative gains of Leaf is in the increased availability of the operation. “With the stabilization of the process, you reduce variability and operational intervention, helping to reduce operational interference in the process”, comments Paulo Schmidt, estimating a possible reduction in the order of 50% in the unavailability of operation.

The technology also influences the reduction of maintenance costs, due to a more continuous, constant operation and with less wear. “It's like an airplane operating on autopilot”, illustrates Leandro Magno de Souza, Albioma's plant manager at the Esplanada and Codora units.

There are benefits that go beyond operational metrics. “Once you click the ON button, the operator doesn't want to live without the Leaf anymore. It's tranquility and operation control so good that the guy doesn't give up on the solution anymore”, comments Paulo Schmidt, mentioning gains that extend from the operation teams to supervision, management and direction of the plants.

Challenge
See more
Solution
See more
Result
See more
Stability Challenge

The generation of bioelectricity in a sugarcane mill takes place through a process called cogeneration, which aims to make the most of the raw material's energy capacity. Biomass energy is used to produce electrical energy through the heat generated by the combustion of organic matter.

During the harvest, the cane is crushed at the beginning of the production process and the bagasse, a by-product of the crushing, is burned in the boiler to generate steam. In the off-season, the sugarcane straw is mixed with the excess bagasse and burned in the boiler with the same objective of generating steam.

High pressure steam is used by turbogenerators to generate energy, while exhaust (low pressure) is consumed as a utility by plant processes. In the case of Albioma, part of the electricity is directed to the partner plant's internal consumption, while the surplus is exported based on the integration of the generation system with the national electricity grid.

To ensure greater quality in the final product, it is necessary to guarantee optimal functioning of the generators, which is only possible through an intake steam at ideal temperature and pressure conditions, in accordance with the projected parameters. With more stable steam generated by the boiler, all processes benefit, which increases the plant's energy generation efficiency.

The challenge of maintaining the quality of steam in the unit is due to some conditions intrinsic to the operation of sugar and alcohol plants: variations in the characteristics of the sugarcane bagasse burned in the boiler (moisture and fiber content) directly affect the amount of heat generated; variations in the demand for steam by the production process cause changes in energy generation through adjustments that even compromise the pace of production in some situations.

Stabilizing cogeneration

The company has begun validating the application of Leaf, an AI solution for advanced multivariate process control, to control boiler outlet pressure and temperature at its most problematic thermal power plant. The technology started to run in the plant and it was possible to see the software anticipating variations in the process demand and adjusting to different types and qualities of burned biomass, optimizing energy generation.

“Leaf was the technology that presented us with the lowest risk, with a very interesting business model”, says Paulo Schmidt, Corporate Operations Manager at Albioma, who highlights the solution validation process, as i.Systems makes a base study on the client's operation and identifies if and what gains the Leaf application will bring when installed.

In the opinion of Leandro Magno de Souza, Plant Manager at Albioma at the Esplanada and Codora Units, the preparation of this business case helps to understand the financial return and, in addition to indicating where there will be immediate returns, it can provide clues to other points in the network and controls existing ones can be improved independently of the Leaf.

On the factors that influenced the decision for Leaf, Paulo Schmidt mentions that, in addition to the technical capacity of the technology, the hiring business model made the difference. As it is software as a service (SaaS), Leaf is consumed from the payment of a monthly fee, and is entered in the accounting as an operating cost (OpEx).

“It's all very dynamic. After activating the solution, the technology has been tuning in for a while and the results have started to appear and can be optimized”, comments Paulo Schmidt.

Operating on ideal setpoints

Sunflower, an optimization module from i.Systems embedded in the Leaf platform, is used to increase the average vapor pressure, promoting, in conjunction with the rise in temperature levels, both in the harvest and between harvests, the increase in enthalpy and stability of the steam.

With the application of advanced and multivariable strategies, control of exhaust pressure and energy exported to the grid were also integrated. The Leaf started to act on the ideal power setpoints of the turbogenerators and on the extraction pressure of one of the condensing turbines.

Depending on the operating scenario, steam demand and desired export, Leaf explored the most efficient configuration among the equipment, promoting the best possible use of steam for power generation and raising the exhaust quality needed by consumers.

“Now we are reaping results”, comments Paulo Schmidt. Today, the Leaf has been expanded and is in use at Albioma's four units in Brazil. With the sum of the approaches (revamp + Leaf) the company practically doubles the installed generation capacity that existed at the plant before the entry of Albioma. “The technology from I.Systems arrives bringing even more stability and control to the process, reducing variability and improving setpoints, which generates an increase in benefits”, he comments.

In addition to the AI ​​solution for advanced process control and the optimization module, the company also uses Webmonitor, a technology that delivers real-time operation data to the Albioma team. “For us, it is important to monitor processes in real time from a distance and be able to talk to the plant about the variations”, he says.

Direct and indirect benefits

With Leaf, Albioma was able to reduce the boiler pressure and temperature variability by 48% and 30%, respectively. “The great concept I learned is that all variability generates loss”, comments Paulo Schmidt, adding: “If there is a system that reduces variability, improve setpoints, it would certainly bring a gain”.

In fact, the variability reduction brought by the Leaf made it possible to optimize parameters, increasing the averages of the variables by 2 ºC and 0.6 kgf/cm². With stable and quality steam, through actions integrated in the cogeneration control grids, the variability in steam flow was reduced by 68%.

These improvements, together with better load balancing of turbogenerators, also allowed the cogeneration process to generate electricity more efficiently and in greater quantities. During the harvest period, the average specific consumption of generators was reduced by 0.8% and annual energy generation gains were above 1,400 MWh.

One of these qualitative gains of Leaf is in the increased availability of the operation. “With the stabilization of the process, you reduce variability and operational intervention, helping to reduce operational interference in the process”, comments Paulo Schmidt, estimating a possible reduction in the order of 50% in the unavailability of operation.

The technology also influences the reduction of maintenance costs, due to a more continuous, constant operation and with less wear. “It's like an airplane operating on autopilot”, illustrates Leandro Magno de Souza, Albioma's plant manager at the Esplanada and Codora units.

There are benefits that go beyond operational metrics. “Once you click the ON button, the operator doesn't want to live without the Leaf anymore. It's tranquility and operation control so good that the guy doesn't give up on the solution anymore”, comments Paulo Schmidt, mentioning gains that extend from the operation teams to supervision, management and direction of the plants.

Paulo Schmidt
Albioma - Corporate Operations Manager
Once you click the ON button, the operator doesn't want to live without the Leaf anymore. It's tranquility and operation control so good that the guy doesn't give up on the solution anymore.
Previous
Next

Reinvent your industrial operations

Talk to our team of experts and find out how we can help your company transform the industry.

    By submitting the form, I agree to Privacy Policy and to receive communications from i.Systems. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.