This paper presents a new optimization algorithm for the selection of design and operation parameters in complex Activated Sludge (AS) processes. The algorithm estimates automatically the dimensions and operating point of the plant that minimize a global penalty function combining effluent requirements and costs. The mathematical optimization is based on a direct search algorithm integrated in a previously developed simulation package.
Some illustrative examples concerning the design and operation of the Alpha process have been included to show the potential of this kind of mathematical tool when the complexity of plant configuration increases. The results obtained by the optimization procedure generate useful guidelines for the design and operation and suggest a great potential in the application for solving more complex problems when additional objectives and costs are included.