Capitanescu F, Rege S, Marvuglia A, Benetto E, Ahmadi A, Gutiérrez TN, Tiruta-Barna L. Cost versus life cycle assessment-based environmental impact optimization of drinking water production plants. Journal of environmental management 2016 Apr 21;177:278-287. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.04.027.
Empowering decision makers with cost-effective solutions for reducing industrial processes environmental burden, at both design and operation stages, is nowadays a major worldwide concern. The paper addresses this issue for the sector of drinking water production plants (DWPPs), seeking for optimal solutions trading-off operation cost and life cycle assessment (LCA)-based environmental impact while satisfying outlet water quality criteria. This leads to a challenging bi-objective constrained optimization problem, which relies on a computationally expensive intricate process-modelling simulator of the DWPP and has to be solved with limited computational budget. Since mathematical programming methods are unusable in this case, the paper examines the performances in tackling these challenges of six off-the-shelf state-of-the-art global meta-heuristic optimization algorithms, suitable for such simulation-based optimization, namely Strength Pareto Evolutionary Algorithm (SPEA2), Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm (NSGA-II), Indicator-based Evolutionary Algorithm (IBEA), Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithm based on Decomposition (MOEA/D), Differential Evolution (DE), and Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO). The results of optimization reveal that good reduction in both operating cost and environmental impact of the DWPP can be obtained. Furthermore, NSGA-II outperforms the other competing algorithms while MOEA/D and DE perform unexpectedly poorly.