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ISAAC Dynamics: A Malleable Simulation Software Capable of Being Completely Personalized

Reported from CSPPLAZA: During different development stages of CSP plant, various simulation software would be needed.

In early stage of development, some softwares can be used to analyze the economical efficiency of CSP plant, thus estimating its preliminary returns, such as SAM (developed by NREL), Greenius (developed by DLR). While some are used during operation stage to simulate equipment system, start-stop function and typical fault. In this way, plant workers would be trained in emergency response and accident management skills.

In China, not many simulation softwares are being used in CSP industry and SAM is the most used. On top of that, there is a noteworthy  simulation software—ISAAC Dynamics developed by Italy-based Transient Group.

Recently, CSPPLAZA interviewed Matteo Losito, process engineer of Transient Group, talking about ISAAC Dynamics’s character, advantages/disadvantages, and application record.

CSPPLAZA: Could you please give us a brief introduction of TransientGroup? Like founding time, scale and headquarters.

Matteo Losito: TransientGroup was founded in 2016 as the engineering branch of Struttura Informatica, with more than 15 years of experience in the Simulation Field for engineering applications. It’s a relatively small company (about 10 employees) its headquarters are based in Florence (Italy)

CSPPLAZA: What is your scope of business? Has your company focused on CSP field since founded? And why did you choose CSP industry?

Matteo Losito: The business scope of TransientGroup is providing its client portfolio with effective and solid solutions in the Simulation field for engineering applications, mainly in the energy area. Our staff has been involved in CSP projects since 2008 with the Priolo Gargallo dynamic model and throughout the last ten years with many partners like ENEA, Techint, ENEL Green Power, ABB, Alstom Power USA and many others. CSP plant modeling is definitely one of our areas of specialization.

CSPPLAZA: Can you introduce your product: ISAAC Dynamics? ( it couldn’t be better if you can add several relevant pictures) Apart from that, do you have other products which are applied to CSP industry?

Matteo Losito: ISAAC Dynamics is our main simulation software, entirely developed in-house by our engineers and software developers. The main objective of ISAAC Dynamics is the dynamic simulation of complex systems. It treats a wide range of application fields and without a doubt its CSP library is the most common and tested one with a high percentage of the components validated by our partners over the last 10 years.

CSPPLAZA:  What are the differences between ISAAC Dynamics and SAM?

Matteo Losito: We know SAM Modeling very well and we had the opportunity last year to exchange opinions with a couple of engineers who actively work on the project at the NREL. SAM is a very useful instrument but its goal is very different from that of ISAAC Dynamics and I would say that they could even be considered complementary. SAM makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation and operating costs and system design parameters that the user specifies as inputs to the model. ISAAC Dynamics, on the other hand, has been thought to carry on extremely detailed analysis of transient phenomena existing in an entire power plant or just a part of it. Of course it is also possible to conduct long-lasting simulations in order to perform productive and economic assessments (and we have done this kind of analysis in the past) and this can be seen as one of the many uses that the user can make of ISAAC Dynamics.

CSPPLAZA: What are the advantages and disadvantages of ISAAC Dynamics? Why do you think Chinese CSP industry needs your product? Will it be popular? Can you list several reasons?

Matteo Losito: The main advantage of ISAAC Dynamics, without a doubt, is its degree of customization. Unlike many other commercial software, the user can put his knowledge into ISAAC Dynamics interacting with him to create models faithfully representing the particular scenarios that he has to represent with the tool. Each client has its need and we imagined ISAAC as a malleable tool capable of being completely personalized. The user can easily create its own modules with the Module Creator embedded in the software.

The second advantage of ISAAC Dynamics is the team behind the software. TransientGroup’s engineers are there to give you assistance, not only with the support for the software but also with regards to process solutions on your specific cases. And this is what the team usually does: we provide the tool and we also provide high quality engineering consultancy services related to dynamics modelling.

The third advantage is that the licenses of ISAAC Dynamics only cost a fraction of other commercial tools operating in the same sector.

There are many other advantages related to our platform but this could become too technical. We would be pleased to work through this with anyone who wants to know more about it.

One of the limitations of ISAAC until last year was its communication capabilities. In 2017 we have finally solved this issue with the release of ID-Connect, a plug-in that allows the software to communicate with every other tool via TCP/IP. So, if the user usually adopts other solutions, it’s not a problem to share real-time data and exploit ISAAC capabilities to simulate a part of a plant and then connect it to other models.

2017 has been an incredible year for CSP industry in China. The construction of several CSP plants has begun, with many demonstration projects entered in the construction stage demonstrating the will of this country to reach more ambitious targets. This environment could be considered the perfect habitat for ISAAC Dynamics, a software that gives its best in the pre-construction phase where feasibility studies, optimization strategies, choice and pre-dimensioning of components and troubleshooting represent the main objectives of the projects under development.

CSPPLAZA: Has ISAAC Dynamics been applied into any commercial CSP plants? Who are your cooperative partners? Can you explain or show through screen shots the way to use ISAAC Dynamics, according to your practical experience?

Matteo Losito: The picture below depicts the main works carried out in the CSP industry and the related clients/partners. Many of these represent commercial power plants, some others are Pilot Plants of commercial projects regarding the two main categories of CSP power plants: Parabolic Trough plants and Central Receiver power plants. Our two last projects in the CSP field, whose papers must still be published, were presented in SolarPACES 2017 in Santiago de Chile, one regarding a receiver system detailed analysis (in cooperation with DLR – Germany) and one concerning a 24-hours Dynamics Simulation of a CSP Solar Tower. The first one represents a validation of our pipe module composing the solar receiver system.

ISAAC Dynamics is very easy to use. It can be separated into four main sections:

1) Model builder: here the user builds its model dragging & dropping each block in the flowsheet.

2) Run Time Environment: here the user runs his models.

3) Module Library: here the user can develop customized modules.

4) ID-Connect: here the user can connect his models to other software.

Combining the use of the main instruments included in the software, it is possible to generate highly accurate models, from long-lasting simulation to millisecond-long phenomena analysis, with level of details customized by the user.

Combining the use of the main instruments included in the software, it is possible to generate highly accurate models, from long-lasting simulation to millisecond-long phenomena analysis, with level of details customized by the user.

CSPPLAZA: Do you have any marketing plans to promote your technology and tool in China? What kind of partners that you want to cooperate with in China, the plant developer, Electric Design Institutes? Do you intend to find one agent in China to help promotion?

Matteo Losito: We have been trying to penetrate the Chinese market for the last 4 years. We have had an important collaboration (not in CSP industry) with CGN (China General Nuclear Power Group) that invested in our technology and bought ISAAC Dynamics for its process dynamic simulations.

We are now very interested in making our tool known in China and our main goal is to introduce the use of ISAAC Dynamics within the simulation departments of the main CSP players of the country.

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