Reducing Carbon in the Design of Large Infrastructure Scheme with Evolutionary Algorithms (Papers Track)

Matt Blythe (Continuum Industries)


The construction and operations of large infrastructure schemes such as railways, roads, pipelines and power lines account for a significant proportion of global carbon emissions. Opportunities to reduce the embodied and operational carbon emissions of new infrastructure schemes are greatest during the design phase. However, schedule and cost constraints limit designers from assessing a large number of design options in detail to identify the solution with the lowest lifetime carbon emissions using conventional methods. Here, we develop an evolutionary algorithm to rapidly evaluate in detail the lifetime carbon emissions of thousands of possible design options for new water transmission pipeline schemes. Our results show that this approach can help designers in some cases to identify design solutions with more than 10% lower operational carbon emissions compared with conventional methods, saving more than 1 million tonnes in lifetime carbon emissions for a new water transmission pipeline scheme. We also find that this evolutionary algorithm can be applied to design other types of infrastructure schemes such as non-water pipelines, railways, roads and power lines.