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Improved models for operation modes of complex compressor stations

Hiller, Benjamin; Saitenmacher, René; Walther, Tom

We study combinatorial structures in large-scale mixed-integer (nonlinear) programming problems arising in gas network optimization. We propose a preprocessing strategy exploiting the observation that a large part of the combinatorial complexity arises in certain subnetworks. Our approach analyzes these subnetworks and the combinatorial structure of the flows within these subnetworks in order to provide alternative models with a stronger combinatorial structure that can be exploited by off-the-shelve solvers. In particular, we consider the modeling of operation modes for complex compressor stations (i.e., ones with several in- or outlets) in gas networks. We propose a refined model that allows to precompute tighter bounds for each operation mode and a number of model variants based on the refined model exploiting these tighter bounds. We provide a procedure to obtain the refined model from the input data for the original model. This procedure is based on a nontrivial reduction of the graph representing the gas flow through the compressor station in an operation mode. We evaluate our model variants on reference benchmark data, showing that they reduce the average running time between 10% for easy instances and 46% for hard instances. Moreover, for three of four considered networks, the average number of search tree nodes is at least halved, showing the effectivity of our model variants to guide the solver’s search.
Published in: Mathematical Methods of Operations Research, 10.1007/s00186-021-00745-x, Springer Nature