Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering


Vahidi, Ardalan

Committee Member

Rotea , Mario A.

Committee Member

Wagner , John

Committee Member

Daqaq , Mohammed

Committee Member

Schmoll , Martin


Modern hybrid electric vehicles and many stationary renewable power generation systems combine multiple power generating and energy storage devices to achieve an overall system-level efficiency and flexibility which is higher than their individual components. The power or energy management control, ``brain' of these ``hybrid' systems, determines adaptively and based on the power demand the power split between multiple subsystems and plays a critical role in overall system-level efficiency. This dissertation proposes that a receding horizon optimal control (aka Model Predictive Control) approach can be a natural and systematic framework for formulating this type of power management controls. More importantly the dissertation develops new results based on the classical theory of optimal control that allow solving the resulting optimal control problem in real-time, in spite of the complexities that arise due to several system nonlinearities and constraints. The dissertation focus is on two classes of hybrid systems: hybrid electric vehicles in the first part and wind farms with battery storage in the second part.
The first part of the dissertation proposes and fully develops a real-time optimization-based power management strategy for hybrid electric vehicles. Current industry practice uses rule-based control techniques with ``else-then-if' logic and look-up maps and tables in the power management of production hybrid vehicles. These algorithms are not guaranteed to result in the best possible fuel economy and there exists a gap between their performance and a minimum possible fuel economy benchmark. Furthermore, considerable time and effort are spent calibrating the control system in the vehicle development phase, and there is little flexibility in real-time handling of constraints and re-optimization of the system operation in the event of changing operating conditions and varying parameters. In addition, a proliferation of different powertrain configurations may result in the need for repeated control system redesign. To address these shortcomings, we formulate the power management problem as a nonlinear and constrained optimal control problem. Solution of this optimal control problem in real-time on chronometric- and memory- constrained automotive microcontrollers is quite challenging; this computational complexity is due to the highly nonlinear dynamics of the powertrain subsystems, mixed-integer switching modes of their operation, and time-varying and nonlinear hard constraints that system variables should satisfy. The main contribution of the first part of the dissertation is that it establishes methods for systematic and step-by step improvements in fuel economy while maintaining the algorithmic computational requirements in a real-time implementable framework. More specifically a linear time-varying model predictive control approach is employed first which uses sequential quadratic programming to find sub-optimal solutions to the power management problem. Next the objective function is further refined and broken into a short and a long horizon segments; the latter approximated as a function of the state using the connection between the Pontryagin minimum principle and Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equations. The power management problem is then solved using a nonlinear MPC framework with a dynamic programming solver and the fuel economy is further improved.
Typical simplifying academic assumptions are minimal throughout this work, thanks to close collaboration with research scientists at Ford research labs and their stringent requirement that the proposed solutions be tested on high-fidelity production models. Simulation results on a high-fidelity model of a hybrid electric vehicle over multiple standard driving cycles reveal the potential for substantial fuel economy gains. To address the control calibration challenges, we also present a novel and fast calibration technique utilizing parallel computing techniques.
The second part of this dissertation presents an optimization-based control strategy for the power management of a wind farm with battery storage. The strategy seeks to minimize the error between the power delivered by the wind farm with battery storage and the power demand from an operator. In addition, the strategy attempts to maximize battery life. The control strategy has two main stages. The first stage produces a family of control solutions that minimize the power error subject to the battery constraints over an optimization horizon. These solutions are parameterized by a given value for the state of charge at the end of the optimization horizon. The second stage screens the family of control solutions to select one attaining an optimal balance between power error and battery life. The battery life model used in this stage is a weighted Amp-hour (Ah) throughput model. The control strategy is modular, allowing for more sophisticated optimization models in the first stage, or more elaborate battery life models in the second stage. The strategy is implemented in real-time in the framework of Model Predictive Control (MPC).