Application of Multiobjective Optimization in Chemical Engineering Design and Operation


The purpose of this research project is the design and optimization of complex chemical engineering problems, by employing evolutionary algorithms (EAs). EAs are optimization techniques which mimic the principles of genetics and natural selection. Given their population-based approach, EAs are well suited for solving multiobjective optimization problems (MOOPs) to determine Pareto-optimal solutions. The Pareto front refers to the set of non-dominated solutions which highlight trade-offs among the different objectives. A broad range of applications have been studied, all of which are drawn from the chemical engineering field. The design of an industrial packed bed styrene reactor is initially studied with the goal of maximizing the productivity, yield and selectivity of styrene. The dual population evolutionary algorithm (DPEA) was used to circumscribe the Pareto domain of two and three objective optimization case studies for three different configurations of the reactor: adiabatic, steam-injected and isothermal. The Pareto domains were then ranked using the net flow method (NFM), a ranking algorithm that incorporates the knowledge and preferences of an expert into the optimization routine. Next, a multiobjective optimization of the heat transfer area and pumping power of a shell-and-tube heat exchanger is considered to provide the designer with multiple Pareto-optimal solutions which capture the trade-off between the two objectives. The optimization was performed using the fast and elitist non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm (NSGA-II) on two case studies from the open literature. The algorithm was also used to determine the impact of using discrete standard values of the tube length, diameter and thickness rather than using continuous values to obtain the optimal heat transfer area and pumping power. In addition, a new hybrid algorithm called the FP-NSGA-II, is developed in this thesis by combining a front prediction algorithm with the fast and elitist non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm-II (NSGA-II). Due to the significant computational time of evaluating objective functions in real life engineering problems, the aim of this hybrid approach is to better approximate the Pareto front of difficult constrained and unconstrained problems while keeping the computational cost similar to NSGA-II. The new algorithm is tested on benchmark problems from the literature and on a heat exchanger network problem.