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Combustion Control System Software

       
 

Combustion Control System (CCS) software is used to test combustion devices such as rocket motors and oxy-fuel combustion systems. The development of CCS software is one of Bergmans Mechatronics LLC's (BML) main areas of specialization.

CCS software must enable a combustion device to the tested safely and with low operator workload. To meet these goals, BML's CCS software provides automatic test stand control functions and an intuitive user-interface to give the test operator good awareness of test stand conditions. The link at right provides a brief introduction to combustion test stands and the role of CCS software in their operation.

Key steps in BML's CCS software development process are:

  • design of the control logic in collaboration with the customer
  • writing software in LabVIEW or LabVIEW-RT
  • on-site support for system testing

During CCS development, BML also normally provides one or more of the following services:

  • development of data acquisition and control system hardware
  • installation and interfacing of electronics, sensors and actuators
  • hardware-in-the-loop testing of control algorithms
  • user training
  • test procedure development and review
  • data processing

Although the proprietary nature of the applications for which BML has developed CCS software restricts the information that can be publicly disclosed, the material provided here should still give a good sense of BML's expertise and capabilities in this field.

On this Page

Benefits of Using LabVIEW

Automatic Control Functions

User Interface Design

 

Rocket Motor Testing
Rocket Motor Testing
(Click for details)



Role of Combustion Control System Software
Introduction to Combustion Test Stands
(Click for details)

 
   
  Benefits of using LabVIEW    
 

BML employs LabVIEW for CCS applications. A benefit of the use of LabVIEW is the ease with which User Interfaces (UI) and the underlying control software can be created and modified. As a result, CCS software can readily be tailored for a particular combustion application.

Another benefit of using LabVIEW is that National Instruments (the developers of LabVIEW) and other vendors offer a large number of data acquisition and control hardware products and associated software drivers.

Many system integrators are also available to assemble hardware packages for use in a CCS. For example, in 2011-2012, BML developed LabVIEW/LabVIEW-RT-based CCS software for a client's Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) system. CCS development was accelerated by hosting this software on a custom rackmounted PXI/SCXI-based platform assembled by Bloomy Controls, Inc.

   
 
   
  Automatic Control Functions    
 

BML can implement a variety of automatic control functions to meet the needs of a particular combustion application. Functions developed by BML and demonstrated under hot-fire conditions include:

  • Igniter Auto Start
  • Main combustor Auto Start
  • User-programmable valve sequencing
  • Closed-loop pressure control
  • Closed-loop volumetric and mass flowrate control
  • Pre-programmed scheduling of proportional flow control valve movement
  • User-controlled slaving of digital output channels
  • Automatic shutdown function triggerable by instrumentation data, control signal data and computed values (eg. controller error signal)
 
 
   
  User Interface Design    
 

The CCS User Interface (UI) should be intuitive and easy-to-use. One example of this design approach is the UI that was designed by BML for a rocket motor test stand (see link at right). Another example is the notional water-cooled, oxy-fuel combustion system, also shown at right, that is based on a composite of several combustion control systems developed by BML. Common to both of these UIs are:

  • Schematic representation of the fluid flow paths
  • Buttons for manual control of actuators (eg. valves and pumps)
  • Numeric indicators and time history plots for monitoring system parameters
  • Buttons to initiate system auto-start and shutdown
  • Data recording control

One notable characteristic of BML's UI design philosophy is the placement directly on the system schematic of i) digital control buttons for manual control of actuators and ii) numeric indicators for display of instrumentation data. (The addition of the latter to CCS UIs was implemented after the development of the rocket motor UI shown here). This technique provides the operator with good awareness of the system state and enables new users to quickly become proficient with the system.

When CCS software is being used to support the development of a combustion device, the majority of the time, the software is operated in manual mode. To enhance the safety of test stand operation during this period, the UI of recent systems has included a multi-stage interlock mechanism to prevent inadvertent triggering of an automatically controlled test. The link at right provides additional details about this feature.

 


Horizontal Test Stand GUI
User Interface for Rocket Motor Test Stand
(Click for details)


Combustion Control System GUI
User Interface for a Notional Oxy-Fuel Combustion System
(Click for details)


Multi-Stage Interlocks
Multi-Stage Interlock Mechanism
(Click for details)

 

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