IIT Mandi uses AI-enhanced research algorithms to select appropriate wastewater management method

New Delhi: Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi have used artificial intelligence-enhanced operation research tools to select wastewater management methods to meet the specific socio-economic needs of places and environments.
While selecting the most environment-friendly wastewater treatment technology, the study also helps to take large-scale decisions such as investments and socio-cultural policies. The findings of the research have also been published in the Journal of Cleaner Production.
“While the choice of water treatment methods for a particular society was based on human intuition in the past, such an approach is no longer valid given the magnitude of the activity, the range of techniques available, the complexity of socio-economic fabric of today’s society and several conflicting criteria that must be considered,” said Satvasheel Powar, assistant professor at IIT Mandi.
To choose the appropriate technology (AT) for wastewater management, researchers employed tools that combine artificial intelligence (AI) and operations research (OR) concepts to help with the decision-making process.
“We have used a set of methods called Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM), that combine alternative decisions with quantitative and qualitative results in compact solutions. The team has used MSDM methods equipped with AI features of fuzzy logic to handle the uncertainties and ‘vagaries’ of the decision-making process,” Powar said.
He further explained that the researchers first shortlisted available technologies based on availability and primary studies.
“The technologies spanned both traditional and novel industrial technologies such as Activated Sludge Process (ASP), Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), Moving Bed Biofilm Reactors (MBBR), Fluidized Aerobic Bed (FAB) Reactors, Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) and Biopipe,” he said.
The researchers then identified sustainability criteria and their indicators. Seventeen criteria were selected from the areas of environmental sustainability, economic affordability, social acceptability and functional aspects.
Then, the significance of the criteria was decided by field experts. This was followed by the creation of a decision matrix and application of fuzzy-logic MCDM algorithms such as F-SWARA, F-MOORA, and F-TOPSIS to obtain the ranking of the various techniques according to sustainability criteria. The decisions made by these methods were validated through analysis.
“Given a specific set of sustainability criteria and their significance, Biopipe, MBR and SBR were ranked as the most sustainable options by MOORA and TOPSIS, which was validated by data analysis. Our research showed that SWARA-MOORA methodology is reliable and straightforward, and fuzzification further improves the stability of the results,” Atul Dhar, associate professor at IIT Mandi.
“While the study was conducted to select the most environment-friendly wastewater treatment technology, it can also be applied to any multi-criteria selection problem that could be as minor as deciding on a consumer product to large-scale decisions such as investments and socio-cultural policies.
“This combination of techniques is also useful from a policy standpoint as it incorporates input from both technology and people and considers sentiments when making decisions,” he said.

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