Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. John R. Wagner, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Richard S. Miller

Committee Member

Dr. Todd Schweisinger

Committee Member

Dr. Ardalan Vahidi


Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology has evolved in the last two decades to become economically feasible for mass produced automobiles. With the integration of a lithium battery pack and electric motors, HEVs offer a significantly higher fuel efficiency than traditional vehicles that are driven solely by an internal combustion engine. However, the additional HEV components also introduce new challenges for the powertrain thermal management system design. In addition to the common internal combustion engine, the battery pack, the generator(s), as well as the electric motor(s) are now widely applied in the HEVs and have become new heat sources and they also require proper thermal management. Conventional cooling systems have been typically equipped with a belt driven water pump and radiator fan, as well as other mechanical actuators such as the thermostat valve. The operation of these components is generally determined by the engine speed. This open-loop cooling strategy has a low efficiency and suffers the risk of over-cooling the coolant and components within the system. In advanced thermal management systems, the mechanical elements are upgraded by computer controlled actuators including a servo-motor driven pump, variable speed fans, a smart thermostat, and an electric motor driven compressor. These electrified actuators offer the opportunity to improve temperature tracking and reduce parasitic losses. This dissertation investigates a HEV powertrain thermal management system featuring computer controlled cooling system actuators. A suite of mathematical models have been created to describe the thermal behaviour of the HEV powertrain components. Model based controllers were developed for the vehicle's cooling systems including the battery pack, electric motors, and internal combustion engine. Optimal control theory has been applied to determine the ideal battery cooling air temperature and the desired heat removal rate on e-motor cooling surface. A model predictive controller(MPC) was developed to regulate the refrigerant compressor and track the battery cooling air temperature. A series of Lyapunov-based nonlinear controllers have been implemented to regulate the coolant pumps and radiator fans in the cooling systems for the engine and e-motors. Representative numerical results are presented and discussed. Overall, the proposed control strategies have demonstrated the effectiveness in improving both the temperature tracking performance and the cooling system power consumption reduction. The peak temperature error in the selected A123 battery core can be tracked within 0.25 C of the target; a 50% reduction of the vapor compression system energy consumption can be obtained by properly designing the cooling air flow structure. Similarly, the cooling system of HEV electric motors shows that the machine internal peak temperature can be tracked to the target value with a maximum error of 3.9 C and an average error of 0.13 C. A 70% to 81% cooling system energy consumption reduction can be achieved under different driving cycle comparing to classical controller applied to maintain a similar level of hotspot temperature stabilization. The proposed optimal nonlinear controller tracks the engine coolant temperature with an average error of 0.35 C and at least 13% reduction in engine cooling power. Further, a close analysis on the cooling system energy consumption reduction has been conducted with a heat exchanger simulation tool established for cooling system design optimization. This research has developed the basis for the holistic control of HEV powertrain thermal management systems by including a suite of model based nonlinear controllers to simultaneously regulate the cooling actuators for the battery pack, e-motors, and conventional internal combustion engine. Numerical studies has been conducted with a high fidelity HEV model under real driving cycles to demonstrate the advantages of introducing advanced control theory into multi-mode vehicle drive systems.



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