The optimization of relaxation and filtration times of submerged microfiltration flat modules in membrane bioreactors used for municipal wastewater treatment is essential for efficient plant operation. However, the optimization and control of such plants and their filtration processes is a challenging problem due to the underlying highly nonlinear and complex processes. This paper presents the use of genetic algorithms for this optimization problem in conjunction with a fully calibrated simulation model, as computational intelligence methods are perfectly suited to the nonconvex multi-objective nature of the optimization problems posed by these complex systems. The simulation model is developed and calibrated using membrane modules from the wastewater simulation software GPS-X based on the Activated Sludge Model No.1 (ASM1). Simulation results have been validated at a technical reference plant. They clearly show that filtration process costs for cleaning and energy can be reduced significantly by intelligent process optimization.

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