Waste Treatment Plant of the Future

Open position

Type: Semester Project (10 credits) with Industry

Period: Spring 2017 (starting February)

Assistants: Jean-Loup Robineau


Resource scarcity concerns are of growing importance together with energy consumption and environmental impact of human activities. In France (as in many other countries), a large part of the waste generated by cities is burned in incinerators or disposed of in landfills.

Optimisation methods can be applied to waste and resource management problems in order to maximize the recovery of valuable material and energy streams (metals, plastics, compost, biogas…), while at the same time reducing monetary costs and environmental impacts. Optimised integration of the different waste treatment facilities paves the road towards the “waste treatment plant of the future”.

Indeed, many different conversion technologies could be combined in order to find the best solutions with respect to given objectives (e.g. cost, electricity production, material recovery…) and under given constraints (e.g. emissions regulations, local energy & material demand…). Multi-objective optimization coupled to multi-criteria analysis will be necessary in order to identify those solutions.

This project aims at developing a model of the “waste treatment plant of the future” for and together with one of our industrial partners who is a leading international environmental services company.


The goal of the project is to develop a decision support prototype tool for waste and resource management at regional scale. The tool, based on the OSMOSE platform developed in the IPESE group, will allow the user to carry out an optimisation of the waste management system. The latter is represented by a set of models corresponding to the different waste treatment technologies (landfill, incinerator, digester, etc.), which can either be predefined in a database of models or defined by the user. In order to provide useful support to decision makers, effort should also be put in the representation of the results obtained by the tool, through appropriate graphs but most importantly by choosing the correct key performance indicators (KPIs). Finally, the models and prototype tool will be tested and validated on a number of realistic test cases.


Building on what has already been done, your main task will be to improve the current models and tool by:

  • Carrying out a thorough literature review on different waste treatment technologies
  • Based on the literature review, creating or improving models of those technologies in the OSMOSE platform
  • Validating the models and tool with data from real case studies
  • Choosing appropriate KPIs and results representation


Desired hard skills are:

  • Energy conversion systems knowledge (EPFL courses: Thermo I/II, Energy conversion, Advanced Energetics, or equivalent)
  • Programming skills: MATLAB, Lua or similar languages
  • Optimization (EPFL courses: Modelling and Optimization of Energy Systems or equivalent)

Other soft skills which are highly appreciated:

  • Autonomy and self-organisation
  • Ability to communicate results
  • Good English writing skills

Fluent French is a plus to facilitate communication with the company, but not mandatory.

How to apply

If interested, please take contact with Jean-Loup Robineau, attaching your CV, Cover Letter and transcript of records (Bachelor’s and Master’s).


As the IPESE research group is now located in Sion, students will need to commute. A travel expense compensation of 600 CHF will be given to students for semester projects. The days of presence in Sion will be agreed with the project supervisor.