Dr Rene Bañares-Alcántara develops new optimisation model for analysis and evaluation of water policies

Rene Bañares-Alcántara and Aidid Chee Tahi from Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science have developed a new modelling system which can help policymakers evaluate water policies. The modelling system was presented at the 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Meeting.

Rene Bañares-Alcántara presented the paper ‘A semantic representation of policy goals in the modeling of electricity generation and water treatment systems’ at the AIChE Annual Meeting on Monday 29 October in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The event is an educational forum for chemical engineers interested in innovation and professional growth, and aims to promote ‘cleaner energy, stronger economy, and better living’.

The paper introduces a modelling system which can be used for the analysis and evaluation of water policies, including those aimed at ensuring water supply security and sustainability.

Optimisation models are useful tools for policymakers because they allow different scenarios to be evaluated during the formulation of energy and water policies. Existing models are based solely on mathematical equations that process numerical data, and policy goals set by the policymaker must first be translated into mathematical information that can be input into the model. However, a complete consideration of energy and water policies also requires evaluating non-numerical data, such as social and political issues.

The model proposed in Rene’s paper breaks new ground by considering both numerical and non-numerical information. It supports policymakers by converting their policy goals into information usable by the optimisation model. A prototype water modelling system was developed and applied to a case study of the state of Penang in Malaysia. A water model was created automatically from a set of water policy goals, and then optimised to generate a water treatment and supply system.

The full extended abstract is available from the event website

Dr Rene Bañares-Alcántara is a Reader in Engineering Science and leads the Systems Engineering Group at the Department of Engineering Science.

Photo credit: AIChE

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