Advanced thermal management systems for internal combustion engines can improve coolant temperature regulation and servo-motor power consumption to positively impact the tailpipe emissions, fuel economy, and parasitic losses by better regulating the combustion process with multiple computer controlled components. The traditional thermostat valve, coolant pump, and clutch-driven radiator fan are upgraded with servo-motor actuators. When the system components function harmoniously, desired thermal conditions can be accomplished in a power efficient manner. Although the vehicle's mechanical loads can be driven by electric servo-motors, the power demands often require large actuator sizes and electrical currents. Integrating hydraulically-driven actuators in the cooling circuit offers higher torques in a smaller package space. Hydraulics are widely applied in transportation and manufacturing systems due to their high power density, design flexibility for power transmission, and ease of computer control.
In this dissertation, several comprehensive nonlinear control architectures are proposed for transient temperature tracking in automotive cooling circuits. First, a single loop experimental cooling system has been fabricated and assembled which features a variable position smart valve, variable speed electric coolant pump, variable speed electric radiator fan, engine block, radiator, steam-based heat exchanger, and various sensors. Second, a multiple loop experimental cooling system has been assembled which features a variable position smart thermostat valve, two variable speed electric pumps, variable speed electric radiator fan, engine block, transmission, radiator, steam-based heat exchanger, and sensors. Third, a single loop experimental hydraulic-based thermal system has been assembled which features a variable speed hydraulic coolant pump and radiator fan, radiator, and immersion heaters. In the first and second configured systems, the steam-based heat exchanger emulates the engine's combustion process and transmission heat. For the third test platform, immersion heating coils emulate the combustion heat.
For the first configured system, representative numerical and experimental results are discussed to demonstrate the thermal management system operation in precisely tracking desired temperature profiles and minimizing electrical power consumption. The experimental results show that less than 0.2°K temperature tracking error can be achieved with a 14% improvement in the system component power consumption. In the second configured system, representative experimental results are discussed to investigate the functionality of the multi-loop thermal management system under normal and elevated ambient temperatures. The presented results clearly show that the proposed robust controller-based thermal management system can accurately track prescribed engine and transmission temperature profiles within 0.13°K and 0.65°K, respectively, and minimize electrical power consumption by 92% when compared to the traditional factory control method. Finally, representative numerical and experimental results are discussed to demonstrate the performance of the hydraulic actuators-based advance thermal management system in tracking prescribed temperature profiles (e.g., 42% improvement in the temperature tracking error) and minimizing satisfactorily hydraulic power consumption when compared to other common control method.