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Keywords:

  • process control;
  • soft sensor;
  • degradation;
  • online support vector machine;
  • time variable

Soft sensors have been widely used in chemical plants to estimate process variables that are difficult to measure online. One of the crucial difficulties of soft sensors is that predictive accuracy drops due to changes in state of chemical plants. Characteristics of adaptive soft sensor models such as moving window models, just-in-time models and time difference models were previously discussed. The predictive accuracy of any traditional models decreases when sudden changes in processes occur. Therefore, a new soft sensor method based on online support vector regression (SVR) and the time variable was developed for constructing soft sensor models adaptive to rapid changes of relationships among process variables. A nonlinear SVR model with the time variable is updated with the most recent data. The proposed method was applied to simulation data and real industrial data, and achieved higher predictive accuracy than traditional ones even when time-varying changes in process characteristics happen. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J 60: 600–612, 2014