Ames Laboratory releases new version of process simulator interface software



Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have released a new version of integration software that will help engineers develop greener power plants. The application, called VE-PSI 3.0, helps engineers design power plants more efficiently and at less cost by integrating large amounts of design and plant operations data in an integrated computational environment.

VE-PSI provides an interface between process simulation software and many other types of engineering information used in power plant design, such as graphical components, sensor data, and any other plant information. VE-PSI 3.0 offers several new features:

  • simplified engineering and review process through the integration of analysis tools;
  • interfaces to real-time power plant sensor data through OPC®;
  • support for the MathWork’s® Simulink® solver.

“VE-PSI 3.0 is a significant step forward because it provides a ready framework that can be quickly updated and adapted as the power plant design evolves,” said Mark Bryden, lead developer of VE-PSI. “Before VE-PSI, these types of integrated computational environments had to be made to order and were relatively static, requiring substantial software maintenance and development costs and making the environments unusable for plant design, analysis, and realistic operational environments.”

Specifically, VE-PSI 3.0 makes it possible for steady-state process simulators from multiple vendors to coexist and co-simulate. For instance, in a power plant design, a steady-state gasifier model developed with one vendor’s simulator can provide data to a turbine model developed in another vendor’s simulator. Engineers can use this capability to save time and cost by using previously developed simulations in future projects. VE-PSI 3.0 also allows users to monitor power plant’s sensors and interact with hardware controls through the use of the OLE for Process Control (OPC®) specification. VE-PSI has support for these simulators: Aspen Plus®, Aspen Plus Dynamics®, Invensys™ DYNSIM, MathWork’s® Simulink®, and DWSIM.

VE-PSI 3.0 is part of VE-Suite, an open-source software package developed by Bryden and his research team. For more information about VE-PSI and how it might be used in a particular application, contact Bryden at

“VE-PSI provides a general interface to many different software simulators and hardware platforms and typically requires some customization for a given application. The benefit here is that there are no software costs for VE-PSI. All software costs incurred are for the development of the application built around VE-PSI and VE-Suite,” said Bryden, who is program director for Simulation, Modeling and Decision Science at the Ames Laboratory and an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University.

VE-PSI was developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. The Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.



Mark Bryden, Simulation, Modeling and Decision Science, 515-294-3891

Doug McCorkle, Simulation, Modeling and Decision Science, 515-294-4938

Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Public Affairs, 515-294-9750