The Finnish Society of Automation selected Apros® simulation software, developed by Fortum and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the key people impacting its development as the recipient of the 2021 Automation Prize.
The Automation Prize is a recognition to a significant research and development effort in the sector, or to an application for industrial or societal use, or for other activities supporting the automation sector. The prize was given at the Automation Day event held in April, and it was received by Jari Hämäläinen from VTT. The amount of the prize is 5,000 euros.
Apros® development has been an exceptional outcome of combining together the high-end Finnish scientific research and engineering work. Apros® utilization areas are the detailed and integrated dynamic simulation of processes, automation and energy systems. Development of Apros® started already 35 years ago as a joint project by VTT and at that time named Finnish energy company IVO (currently Fortum) to support the operations of the Loviisa nuclear power plant and thus creating a very closely working development team from both organisations, which worked in joint premises.
The development of Apros® has been a long-term work, as the numbers show: dozens of people with over 20 years of Apros® experience are working nowadays with the software full-time in Finland alone. The software development has continued actively and today some 20 people are involved in it – about half of them full-time. Besides Fortum and VTT, various other energy utility companies, engineering companies, technical support organizations, nuclear regulatory authorities, research institutes and universities utilize Apros® in their work.
Over the years Apros® has been used as a leading modelling and simulation software platform for hundreds of students, researchers and industry engineers. Hundreds of academic theses, scientific journals, and conference publications have been written about the Apros® development work and simulation applications. For example, Aalto University’s Aaltodoc (keyword APROS) gives 113 Apros® related academic theses, 83 of them are master’s theses and the rest licentiate theses and doctoral dissertations.
Main utilization areas of Apros® have been the simulation of various energy and process industry applications. The most traditional applications are different nuclear and thermal power plants’ engineering simulators and operator training simulators. The single biggest use case of Apros® is the support for Loviisa nuclear power plant operation. To mention few application areas, Apros® is used to calculate the official Loviisa power plant’s safety analyses It is also used as an engineering tool in plant modification projects and as a calculating engine in the operator training simulator LOKS2.
Apros® was also widely utilised in the Loviisa automation renewal project (ELSA), in which dynamic simulation was used to comprehensively ensure the quality of Rolls Royce’s new automation system design and delivery packages prior to the actual commissioning (the so-called virtual commissioning) of the automation systems at the Loviisa power plant. Outside the traditional power sector, Apros® has been used also to simulate various energy systems, such as the cruise ship waste heat recovery and chilled water systems, alternative energy production methods (e.g. Power-to-X), and in the research and development of systems formed by energy production and consumption targets, e.g. the management of district heating networks. Apros ®software licenses have been sold to more than thirty countries.
In granting the Prize, the aim was to recognise the main driving forces behind Apros® and the entire life cycle of Apros® so far. After a thorough review, the jury ended up awarding the Prize, exceptionally, to multiple individuals:
Jari Hämäläinen, Kaj Juslin (VTT/Enbusco), Markku Hänninen, Pasi Laakso, Matti Paljakka, Eija-Karita Puska, and Jukka Ylijoki from VTT, and Karri Honkoila, Kari Porkholm (retired), and Sami Tuuri from Fortum.