This paper reports on an investigation of the effect of adaptive control on a closed-loop chemical plant. The plant controlled was a simple closed-loop feedback system, the elements of which were a proportional controller and an elementary continuous stirred-tank reactor. The reaction involved was an exothermic, single-reactant decomposition, with the control criterion being the integral of the square of the deviation of the output composition from a value determined by a reference model. The adaptive control system incorporated an automatic identification scheme and a decision process, and operated in the presence of disturbances in cooling water temperature and/or catalyst activity.
The adaptive control system yielded excellent results. For all disturbances, the output of the adaptive controlled plant remained much closer to the reference model output than did the output of the simply controlled plant. Inclusion of an adaptive capability in a control system thus appears to be desirable and often feasible.