Data-driven fault detection and identification methods are important in large-scale chemical processes. However, some traditional methods often fail to show superior performance owing to the self-limitations and the characteristics of process data, such as nonlinearity, non-Gaussian distribution, and multi-operating mode. To cope with these issues, the k-NN (k-Nearest Neighbor) fault detection method and extensions have been developed in recent years. Nevertheless, these methods are primarily used for fault detection, and few papers can be found that examine fault identification. In this paper, in order to extract effective fault information, the relationship between various faults and abnormal variables is studied, and an accurate “fault–symptom” table is presented. Then, a novel fault identification method based on k-NN variable contribution and CNN data reconstruction theories is proposed. When there is an abnormality, a variable contribution plot method based on k-NN is used to calculate the contribution index of each variable, and the feasibility of this method is verified by contribution decomposition theory, which includes a feasibility analysis of a single abnormal variable and multiple abnormal variables. Furthermore, to identify all the faulty variables, a CNN (Center-based Nearest Neighbor) data reconstruction method is proposed; the variables that have the larger contribution indices can be reconstructed using the CNN reconstruction method in turn. The proposed search strategy can guarantee that all faulty variables are found in each sample. The reliability and validity of the proposed method are verified by a numerical example and the Continuous Stirred Tank Reactor system.
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