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The fuzzy logic control of distillation process

A fuzzy logic control system for the distillation process will be developed. In these types of technological process there is a lot of empirical knowledge, which will be transformed into fuzzy logic rules and used for computer supported process.

The distillation process for whisky and vodka production is usually controlled by the operators. The companies involved think that empirical knowledge collected over the years cannot be transferred to computer programmes, so their behaviour is basically pretty conservative. In the proposed project we will develop a fuzzy logic based model of the distillation process, which will be used as a demo and promotional product on the one hand and after adaptations, may be installed as a computer process control within a concrete context. The project will start with user analysis, in which user needs and expectations will be defined, followed by the software requirements, concept of solution, development of prototype, testing prototype, improvement of system and testing in a real industrial environment (whisky and vodka production line). The process of making alcohol is about taking sugar molecules from nature and breaking them down into molecules of alcohol. The molecules we are looking at have very simple ingredients - carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). (Sometimes there are additional elements involved, but the main structural components of all organic molecules are C, H and O.) The difference between substances is rooted in the numbers of C and H and O in their molecules. For instance, ordinary sugar has 6 C, 12 H and 6 O, and ordinary alcohol has 2 C, 6 H and 1 O. (Chemists who are already champing at the bit will rightly point out that sugars and alcohols form whole families, of which these are examples). So to turn sugar into alcohol, we have to go from 6C-12H-6O to 2C-6H-1O. We get this result by splitting each molecule of sugar into two molecules of alcohol, plus two molecules of carbon dioxide (each consisting of 1C-2O). In fact, the work is done for us by yeast - single cells which reproduce by simply splitting into two. Their food is sugar, they gain energy from breaking it down, and alcohol and carbon dioxide are their waste products. (You will see that what the yeasts do to sugar is pretty similar to what we do to it when we eat it. We also produce carbon dioxide as a waste product, and breathe it out.) The process of distillation separates out substances, with some floating off in the vapour and condensing into the desired spirit, and others sinking back into the mixture in the still. The ageing process works its magic in a variety of ways. The casks are often sherry casks, in which the sherry has slowly diffused into the wood, some passing out and evaporating, the rest being absorbed. When the cask is emptied, this absorbed material is exposed to the air, which oxidises it into new substances (again for the technical, into acids, aldehydes and esters). When new spirit from the still is poured into the cask, it gradually takes up these substances over time. The men who developed through the ages, the art of making whisky did so by learning the skills of a lifetime, and today they are supported by strong scientific research teams - you can see that the subject is being opened up by the scientific contributions. The demo version will be Internet based, the application will be connected to the intranet so that people who are responsible for the process can easily follow what is happening in the production process. The main benefit of the product application will be cost reduction and constant product quality, because using fuzzy logic it is possible to create a system that works better than the best operator would do. Keywords: fuzzy logic, distillation, artificial intelligence.
Acronym: 
FDLC
Project ID: 
3 223
Start date: 
01-12-2003
Project Duration: 
49months
Project costs: 
1 200 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Market Area: 
Wine and liquors

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.