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Within petroleum refineries, the catalytic reformer unit is the primary producer of high octane product (reformate) for unleaded gasoline blending. Accurate control of this unit results in decreased operating costs, higher product quality and increased flexibility of operations. Presented is a method of catalytic reformer control which employs a non-linear programming technique using a penalty function-gradient approach to handle constraints and control. This control method has previously been implemented in a process computer and is now configured in function blocks common to state-of-the-art microprocessor-based distributed control systems.