- PhD Student – University of Illinois
- MS Mechanical Engineering – University of Illinois (2021)
- Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering – Auburn University (2018)
- B.S. in Physics – Auburn University (2018)
- Research Interests: Control & Design Optimization for Power & Thermal Systems
Advances in power density, energy storage technology, and thermal management are crucial to the increased electrification of vehicles, including those with high ramp rate loads such as heavy construction and military vehicles. My work focuses on modeling, design optimization, and control strategies to improve power density of future electrified vehicles systems, with an emphasis on energy storage systems.
Energy storage is a crucial technology in electrified vehicle industries, as vehicles rely heavily on electrical energy storage for vehicle propulsion, passenger comfort, and support of vital loads. Many electric vehicle applications experience electrical loads with high peak-to-average power requirements, and these high peak loads can be damaging to traditional energy storage devices such as batteries. Due to the inherent linkage between the electrical and thermal domains, electrical loads often produce significant thermal loads, and thus careful attention must be paid to thermal management systems for vehicle applications. Typically, electrical and thermal energy storage are treated separately; my work focuses on combining electrical and thermal energy storage for these applications.
In the electrical domain, hybrid energy storage offers a solution to the problem of high peak power. Hybrid energy storage (HES) in this context refers to combining dissimilar energy storage components for greater overall capabilities. My work has focused on HES systems which combine energy-dense battery cells and power-dense ultracapacitor cells into a system with increased power and energy density over either of the individual storage elements, demonstrated conceptually in Fig. 1. Previous work demonstrated in simulation that electrical HES is a valuable technology for high peak power applications . However, the intrinsic differences between heterogeneous storage elements prompts the need for advanced design and control strategies for these hybrid systems. In previous collaborative work, I’ve examined model predictive control and iterative learning control for these systems. I’ve also worked on design optimization of these systems, determining optimal combinations of battery and ultracapacitor cells to minimize mass and maximize performance .
In the thermal domain, high peak power loads can damage many electronic components, including energy storage elements such as batteries. Increasing the size of a traditional cooling system to account for these loads can result in a prohibitively heavy thermal management system. As a weight-saving alternative, thermal energy storage (TES) can be used to reduce the peak loads experienced by traditional thermal management systems, as shown in Fig. 2. TES often takes the form of phase change materials (PCMs) that rapidly store thermal energy through the phase change phenomena. Previous work has focused on supplementing coolant loops with TES modules containing PCMs to absorb thermal energy from high peak power loads ,. The inclusion of TES within a thermal management system presents some challenges, such as strict PCM operating temperature requirements, low PCM thermal conductivity, and limited phase change energy storage capabilities. These challenges prompt the need for advanced control strategies to maximize the benefit of TES. Previous collaborative work developed a modeling and control strategy for TES modules using graph-based modeling techniques . I’ve also worked on design optimization of these systems, determining optimal masses and melt temperatures of PCMs to minimize mass and maximize performance.
Future work will focus on development of control strategies that optimally manage the coupling between electrical and thermal energy storage systems. Additionally, I plan to apply more advanced design optimization methods to these closed-loop energy storage systems to determine sizing and configuration options that maximize power density.
 C.E. Laird and A.G. Alleyne, “A Hybrid Electro-Thermal Energy Storage System for High Ramp Rate Power Applications,” ASME 2019 Dynamic Systems and Control Conf., 2019.
 H.C. Pangborn, C.E. Laird, and A.G. Alleyne, “Hierarchical Hybrid MPC for Management of Distributed Phase Change Thermal Energy Storage Under Pulsed Loading,” American Control Conference, 2020.
 C.E. Laird, D. Docimo, C.T. Aksland, A.G. Alleyne, “Graph-Based Design and Control Optimization of a Hybrid Electrical Energy Storage System,” ASME 2020 Dynamic Systems and Control Conf., 2020.
C. Laird, “Modeling, control, and design of hybrid electrical and thermal energy storage systems,” MS Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2021.