The process of drying coatings constitutes an important step in automotive plants. In this paper, a control scheme for infrared drying of waterborne coatings is outlined and demonstrated. The drying process model, which is described by a coupled system of a nonlinear partial differential equation for moisture content and a nonlinear ordinary differential equation for coating temperature, is first reduced to a system of nonlinear ODEs using the POD-Galerkin method. Then, a nonlinear model predictive control framework is devised to track a prescribed moisture removal profile during the drying process, while optimizing energy consumption and quality criteria. The effectiveness of the approach is demonstrated using system simulations.

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