MINFIT: A Spreadsheet-Based Tool for Parameter Estimation in an Equilibrium Speciation Software Program

Determination of equilibrium constants describing chemical reactions in the aqueous phase and at solid–water interface relies on inverse modeling and parameter estimation. Although there are existing tools available, the steep learning curve prevents the wider community of environmental engineers and chemists to adopt those tools. Stemming from classical chemical equilibrium codes, MINEQL+ has been one of the most widely used chemical equilibrium software programs. We developed a spreadsheet-based tool, which we are calling MINFIT, that interacts with MINEQL+ to perform parameter estimations that optimize model fits to experimental data sets. MINFIT enables automatic and convenient screening of a large number of parameter sets toward the optimal solutions by calling MINEQL+ to perform iterative forward calculations following either exhaustive equidistant grid search or randomized search algorithms. The combined use of the two algorithms can securely guide the searches for the global optima. We developed interactive interfaces so that the optimization processes are transparent. Benchmark examples including both aqueous and surface complexation problems illustrate the parameter estimation and associated sensitivity analysis. MINFIT is accessible at http://minfit.strikingly.com.