Journal Article

Model-Based Optimization of Economical Grade Changes for the Borealis Borstar Polyethylene Plant

Per-Ola Larsson, Johan Åkesson, Niclas Carlsson, Niklas Andersson


Economical grade changes are considered for a Borealis Borstar polyethylene plant model, incorporating two slurry-phase reactors, one gas-phase reactor and a recycle area with three distillation columns. The model is constructed in the Modelica language and the platform is used for opti- mization. The cost function expresses the economical profit during a grade change and is formulated using on-grade intervals for seven polymer quality variables such as melt index, density and reactor split factors. Additionally, incentives to produce polymer with quality variables on grade target values, not only inside grade intervals, are added. Twelve inflows and three purge flows are used at optimization. Two grade changes are thoroughly reviewed, showing the effect of using a cost function that regards plant economy. Re- sulting trajectories can be divided into three phases with distinguishing fea- tures, and the synchronization of inflows and usage of recycle area off-gas flows are important in the grade changes.


optimization, grade change, polymer, economy


Computers & Chemical Engineering, 46, pp. 153–166, November 2012.