On the application of mathematical programming techniques in sustainability problems
Operating safely within the Earth’s ecological capacity is a major challenge facing us today. In this talk, I will discuss the use of systems thinking, mixed-integer programming and life cycle assessment (LCA) in the optimization of sustainable processes. I will start by motivating the need to transition towards a more sustainable industry with lower environmental footprint, formally stating the problem of interest and reviewing the main mathematical methods available for minimizing the environmental impact of industrial processes. I will then focus on the integration of multi-objective optimization and LCA, describing some recent applications in supply chain management, process design and energy systems. I will finally discuss the main algorithmic challenges in this area, focusing on how to handle multi-objective problems with a large number of objectives, and on the treatment of uncertainties affecting the calculations.