Multi-objective optimisation applied to industrial energy problems

This thesis presents the development of a new multi-objective optimisation tool and applies it to a number of industrial problems related to optimising energy systems. Multi-objective optimisation techniques provide the information needed for detailed analyses of design trade-offs between conflicting objectives. For example, if a product must be both inexpensive and high quality, the multi-objective optimiser will provide a range of optimal options from the cheapest (but lowest quality) alternative to the highest quality (but most expensive), and a range of designs in between – those that are the most interesting to the decision-maker. The optimisation tool developed is the queueing multi-objective optimiser (QMOO), an evolutionary algorithm (EA). EAs are particularly suited to multi-objective optimisation because they work with a population of potential solutions, each representing a different trade-off between objectives. EAs are ideal to energy system optimisation because problems from that domain are often non-linear, discontinuous, disjoint, and multi-modal. These features make energy system optimisation problems difficult to resolve with other optimisation techniques. QMOO has several features that improve its performance on energy systems problems – features that are applicable to a wide range of optimisation problems. QMOO uses cluster analysis techniques to identify separate local optima simultaneously. This technique preserves diversity and helps convergence to difficult-to-find optima. Once normal dominance relations no longer discriminate sufficiently between population members certain individuals are chosen and removed from the population. Careful choice of the individuals to be removed ensures that convergence continues throughout the optimisation. Preserving of the "tail regions" of the population helps the algorithm to explore the full extent of the problem's optimal regions. QMOO is applied to a number of problems: coke factory placement in Shanxi Province, China; choice of heat recovery system operating temperatures; design of heat-exchanger networks; hybrid vehicle configuration; district heating network design, and others. Several of the problems were optimised previously using single-objective EAs. QMOO proved capable of finding entire ranges of solutions faster than the earlier methods found a single solution. In most cases, QMOO successfully optimises the problems without requiring any specific tuning to each problem. QMOO is also tested on a number of test problems found in the literature. QMOO's techniques for improving convergence prove effective on these problems, and its non-tuned performance is excellent compared to other algorithms found in the literature.

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