Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering


Prashant Mhaskar




This thesis considers the problem of fault diagnosis and fault-tolerant control (FTC) for chemical process systems with nonlinear dynamics. The primary objective of fault diagnosis discussed in this work is to identify the failed actuator or sensor by using the information embodied in a process model, as well as input and output data. To this end, an active fault isolation method is first proposed to identify actuator faults and process disturbances by utilizing control action and process nonlinearity. The key idea is to move the process to a region upon fault detection where the effect of each fault can be differentiated from others. The proposed method enables isolation of faults that may not be achievable under nominal operation. This work then investigates the problem of sensor fault isolation by exploiting model-based sensor redundancy through state observer design. Specifically, a high-gain observer is presented and the stability property of the closed-loop system is rigorously established. A method that uses a bank of high-gain observers is then proposed to isolate sensor faults, which explicitly accounts for process nonlinearity, and to continue nominal operation upon fault isolation. In addition to fault diagnosis, this work addresses the problem of handling severe actuator faults using a safe-parking approach and integrating fault diagnosis and safe-parking techniques in a unified fault-handling framework. In particular, several practical issues are considered for the design and implementation of safe-parking techniques, including changes in process dynamics, the network structure of a chemical plant, and actuators frozen at arbitrary positions. The advantage of this approach is that it enables stable process operation under faulty conditions, avoiding the partial or entire shutdown of a chemical plant and resulting economic losses. The efficacy of the proposed fault diagnosis and FTC methods is demonstrated through numerous simulations of chemical process examples.

McMaster University Library