Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Kartik Ariyur

Committee Chair

Kartik Ariyur

Committee Member 1

Suresh Garimella

Committee Member 2

Sugato Chakravarty

Committee Member 3

Athula Kulatunga


Solar receivers in concentrating solar thermal power plants (CSP) undergo over 10,000 start-ups and shutdowns, and over 25,000 rapid rate of change in temperature on receivers due to cloud transients resulting in performance degradation and material fatigue in their expected lifetime of over 30 years. The research proposes to develop a three-level controller that uses multi-input-multi-output (MIMO) control technology to minimize the effect of these disturbances, improve plant performance, and extend plant life. The controller can be readily installed on any vendor supplied state-of-the-art control hardware.^ We propose a three-level controller architecture using multi-input-multi-output (MIMO) control for CSP plants that can be implemented on existing plants to improve performance, reliability, and extend the life of the plant. This architecture optimizes the performance on multiple time scalesreactive level (regulation to temperature set points), tactical level (adaptation of temperature set points), and strategic level (trading off fatigue life due to thermal cycling and current production). This controller unique to CSP plants operating at temperatures greater than 550°C, will make CSPs competitive with conventional power plants and contribute significantly towards the Sunshot goal of 0.06/kWh(e), while responding with agility to both market dynamics and changes in solar irradiance such as due to passing clouds. Moreover, our development of control software with performance guarantees will avoid early stage failures and permit smooth grid integration of the CSP power plants. The proposed controller can be implemented with existing control hardware infrastructure with little or no additional equipment.^ In the thesis, we demonstrate a dynamics model of CSP, of which different components are modelled with different time scales. We also show a real time control strategy of CSP control oriented model in steady state. Furthermore, we shown different controllers design for disturbance rejection and reference tracking to handle complex receiver dynamics under system disturbance and measurement noise. At last, we show different applications of this control oriented CSP model including life cycle enhancement and electricity load forecasting using both neural network and regression tree.