A heat exchanger is widely used for energy management or heat recovery in sustainable energy systems. In many application cases, the outlet temperature should be strictly controlled as desired. However, it is challenging to obtain an accurate dynamic model due to the high-order dynamics, thus reducing the control performance. To this end, this paper proposes a novel identification method by considering the heating process as an approximate second-order plus time delay (SOPDT) model. A normalized analysis indicates that the time-scaled step responses of the general second-order models almost intersect at the same point, which leads to an equation describing the sum of the time constants. Critical stability analysis based on the Nyquist criterion gives another two equations in the frequency domain. Hence the time constants and time delay can be obtained by solving the equations. Illustrative examples show the identification efficiency of the proposed method in the parameter estimation, model reduction, and anti-noise performance. With an effective identification, the high-fidelity SOPDT model makes the PID controller tuning less challengeable. The simulation results based on a benchmark heat exchanger model demonstrate the feasibility of the identification and control. Finally, a real heat exchanger control facility is built and the experimental performance agrees well with the simulation expectation, depicting a promising application prospect in future sustainable applications.
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