Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Mahdi Shahbakhti

Advisor 2

Rush Robinett III

Committee Member 1

Gordon Parker

Committee Member 2

Sumit Paudyal

Committee Member 3

Scott Miers


Building and transportation sectors account for 41% and 27% of total energy consumption in the US, respectively. Designing smart controllers for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems and Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) can play a key role in reducing energy consumption. Exergy or availability is based on the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics and is a more precise metric to evaluate energy systems including HVAC and ICE systems. This dissertation centers on development of exergy models and design of model-based controllers based on exergy and energy metrics for grid-connected energy systems including HVAC and ICEs.

In this PhD dissertation, effectiveness of smart controllers such as Model Predictive Controller (MPC) for HVAC system in reducing energy consumption in buildings has been shown. Given the unknown and varying behavior of buildings parameters, this dissertation proposes a modeling framework for online estimation of states and unknown parameters. This method leads to a Parameter Adaptive Building (PAB) model which is used for MPC.

Exergy destruction/loss in a system or process indicates the loss of work potential. In this dissertation, exergy destruction is formulated as the cost function for MPC problem. Compared to RBC, exergy-based MPC achieve 22% reduction in exergy destruction and 36% reduction in electrical energy consumption by HVAC system. In addition, the results show that exergy-based MPC outperforms energy-based MPC by 12% less energy consumption.

Furthermore, the similar exergy-based approach for building is developed to control ICE operation. A detailed ICE exergy model is developed for a single cylinder engine. Then, an optimal control method based on the exergy model of the ICE is introduced for transient and steady state operations of the ICE. The proposed exergy-based controller can be applied for two applications including (i) automotive (ii) Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems to produce electric power and thermal energy for heating purposes in buildings. The results show that using the exergy-based optimal control strategy leads to an average of 6.7% fuel saving and 8.3% exergy saving compared to commonly used FLT based combustion control.

After developing thermal and exergy models for building and ICE testbeds, a framework is proposed for bilevel optimization in a system of commercial buildings integrated to smart distribution grid. The proposed framework optimizes the operation of both entities involved in the building-to-grid (B2G) integration. The framework achieves two objectives: (i) increases load penetration by maximizing the distribution system load factor and (ii) reduces energy cost for the buildings. The results show that this framework reduces commercial buildings electricity cost by 25% compared to the unoptimized case, while improving the system load factor up to 17%.