Imagine being able to do any experiment you wanted: try out new heat recovery and storage solutions on your ship, try out new fuel and see its effects on your power plant boiler, or even simulate accidents in a nuclear reactor, all with no risk to your safety or the environment, or any loss of production time. Apros®, a dynamic simulation system co-developed by VTT and Fortum, makes this possible.
Going in as a guinea pig
When I first joined VTT as a summer trainee in 1991, I went to work with the Apros team. Apros was at an early stage, with the first outside clients knocking on the door. I was going to be the guinea pig user, coming in with no knowledge of the Apros system at the source code level. As well as testing user-friendliness, the goal was to carry out a benchmark experiment with Apros simulating a transient for a nuclear power plant.
My job was to do whatever modifications were required for the existing model, which involved actions equal to cutting signals in the safety automation, so there was a lot to consider. But the good thing about Apros is that once you have the process configured and you’ve defined the dimensions and other parameters of the equipment, all you really have to do is press play and it will start to behave like the real plant.
During that summer, we succeeded in creating a model and modifying it to validate the model by carrying out the benchmark experiment. So the test was successful and I was invited back the following year. The number of clients also started to grow thanks to the great work being done by Fortum and VTT experts.
Apros now used in tens of countries
Today, Apros is being used by hundreds of experts, driving new business development in tens of countries. Engineering and utility companies and the ship industry; equipment suppliers; safety authorities; and universities and research organizations are now using Apros for modeling and simulation. And we’re expanding our reach.
The benefits of Apros are manifold. In product or plant development or energy efficient ship building, R&D experts using Apros can save time and money. For example, Apros supports a flexible design process, meaning that before a design has been frozen, and costly equipment procured and installed, simulated tests can be run confirming the correct components and dimensions.
Digital twins model behaviour
Creating a digital twin of a power plant or a ship or even just a single component is an important way to replicate behavior and save on time and cost, including averting expensive accidents. Load following in power generation is one example. In a recent case a European coal-fired power plant which had been designed for minor changes in generation, was modified to be capable of secondary response. This capability required alterations in the plant control system as well as analysis on thermal stresses in the process and piping. The modifications and analyses were greatly supported by using an Apros model, which saved a lot of time and money.
When a new control system is taken into use at a power plant, it usually arrives from the factory with quite a few flaws. In commissioning the system, onsite tests will take a fraction of the time if it’s already been tried out using a simulation model. On top of that, plant personnel will already be pre-trained.
Original user-friendliness balanced with new technologies
Going forward, Apros co-owners VTT and Fortum are committed to maintaining and developing this industry-leading product as a state-of-the-art simulation tool. Over the years, my own work with Apros has been off and on but you could say that Apros and I have grown up in business together. As a software product, evolving for more than 30 years, Apros has kept its simulation capability up-to-date and greatly enhanced its user-friendliness while continuously taking on advanced new features. It’s only got better with age. I wonder if we can say the same about me.
Apros® is a registered trademark of VTT and Fortum.