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WVU researchers win inaugural R&D grant from AVEVA

Side by side portraits of R. Turton and Fernando Lima

WVU's Richard Turton and Fernando Lima will use an AVEVA grant to focus on the research and development of next-generation engineering desgin and simulation software.

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West Virginia University is one of only two universities worldwide selected to receive a research and development program award from AVEVA, a leader in engineering and industrial software. The first-of-its-kind award will be used to focus on the research and development of next-generation engineering design and simulation software.

The WVU team, led by Richard Turton, WVU Bolton Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, and Fernando Lima, assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, will use AVEVA’s Unified Simulation Platform or SimCentral platform, a process simulation tool for designing and operating power plants. 

“SimCentral is a new generation simulation platform that piggybacks on some of the work we have been doing at the AVESTAR Center,” Turton said. “This new platform allows for the simultaneous development of steady state, dynamic and fluid flow models, a feature that is currently lacking in other platforms. The platform is quite transparent and allows users to develop a wide variety of customized models within a simulation platform.”

The research team will focus on developing membrane separation models that can be applied to a variety of chemical processes, such as oxygen separation from air, alternative natural gas utilization and carbon capture from coal-fired power plants. These models will eventually be disseminated to both academic and nonacademic users of the software. They will also develop complete operator training simulators for teaching purposes in the academic community.

AVEVA chose SimCentral as the targeted product for its first University R&D program because it provides an ideal environment for academic institutions to develop additional functionality that can be demonstrated in the context of a practical simulator without the need to develop user interfaces, provide thermodynamic properties, or in some cases, without having to write computer code.  This work will complement the operator training platform in the National Research Center for Coal and Energy’s AVESTAR® Center, a state-of-the-art training simulator that provides realistic, hands-on experience for operating clean energy systems in the smart grid era.

“Deepening our relationships with the academic community enables research and development collaboration in key areas of our business, including machine learning, analytics, product speed and statistical confidence, among other attributes,” said Ravi Gopinath, chief operating office at AVEVA. “As AVEVA continues to advance how industrial and infrastructure organizations embrace a digital twin strategy to model and optimize engineering processes, we are increasingly building partnerships with the academic community to invest in tomorrow’s problems today.” 

WVU and the Technical University in Dortmand, Germany, were selected from an international pool of 20 submissions that were reviewed by a panel of experts. Other finalists included UCLA; University of California, Berkley; National University of Singapore; and University of Texas at Austin. Selection was based on a number of factors, including how the research and development grant might drive future innovation across industrial operations, how it could be completed through the use of existing resources and how the output could be incorporated into future software offerings. 



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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