Systematic design of membership functions for fuzzy-logic control: A case study on one-stage partial nitritation/anammox treatment systems

Riccardo Boiocchi, Krist Gernaey, Gürkan Sin

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A methodology is developed to systematically design the membership functions of fuzzy-logic controllers for multivariable systems. The methodology consists of a systematic derivation of the critical points of the membership functions as a function of predefined control objectives. Several constrained optimization problems corresponding to different qualitative operation states of the system are defined and solved to identify, in a consistent manner, the critical points of the membership functions for the input variables. The consistently identified critical points, together with the linguistic rules, determine the long term reachability of the control objectives by the fuzzy logic controller. The methodology is highlighted using a single-stage side-stream partial nitritation/Anammox reactor as a case study. As a result, a new fuzzy-logic controller for high and stable total nitrogen removal efficiency is designed. Rigorous simulations are carried out to evaluate and benchmark the performance of the controller. The results demonstrate that the novel control strategy is capable of rejecting the long-term influent disturbances, and can achieve a stable and high TN removal efficiency. Additionally, the controller was tested, and showed robustness, against measurement noise levels typical for wastewater sensors. A feedforward-feedback configuration using the present controller would give even better performance. In comparison, a previously developed fuzzy-logic controller using merely expert and intuitive knowledge performed worse. This proved the importance of using a systematic methodology for the derivation of the membership functions for multivariable systems. These results are promising for future applications of the controller in real full-scale plants. Furthermore, the methodology can be used as a tool to help systematically design fuzzy logic control applications for other biological processes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)346-361
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anammox
  • Benchmarking
  • Fuzzy-logic
  • Membership function
  • Nitritation
  • Wastewater

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