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ME 570 Sustainable Energy Systems

Catalog Description

ME 570 Sustainable Energy Systems (3). Prerequisites: ME 310, ME 401 or equivalents. Analysis and design of sustainable energy systems, and exploration of concepts such as carbon capture and sequestration for making traditional energy systems more environmentally acceptable.

Prerequisites by Topic

  1. Introductory thermodynamics.
  2. Power and refrigeration cycles.
  3. Introductory fluid mechanics.
  4. Aerodynamic lift and drag.


F. M. Vanek and L. D. Albright, Energy Systems Engineering, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2008.


W.G. Cobourn, Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Course Objectives

This course is designed to familiarize students with current and future energy systems for heat, power and transportation, and to provide instruction on the analysis and design of these systems for environmental sustainability. The focus is on renewable energy systems such as geothermal, solar and wind power, but also included are concepts for transforming traditional fossil fuel and nuclear systems into environmentally acceptable power systems.


  1. Introduction and Historical Background (3 classes).
  2. Energy and Environment (3 classes).
  3. Economic Analysis of Energy Systems (3 classes).
  4. Fossil and Renewable Energy Resources (3 classes).
  5. Global Warming and Climate Change (3 classes).
  6. Combustion Systems and Carbon Sequestration (3 classes).
  7. Nuclear Systems and Security (3 classes).
  8. Wind Energy Systems (6 classes).
  9. Solar Energy Systems (6 classes)
  10. Hydropower and Geothermal Systems (3 classes).
  11. Transportation Systems (4 classes).
  12. Exams and field trips (2 classes).

Computer Use

Use of spreadsheets, equation solver and plotting software.


Homework – 30%, midterm exam – 30%, term paper – 10%, final exam – 30%. The term papers will involve a review of a published paper in the area of renewable or sustainable energy systems. Graduate students are required to write more extensive term papers. These papers require cited references in addition to a bibliography, and the required minimum length is 50 percent greater.

Class/Laboratory Schedule

Three 50 minute sessions per week devoted to lecture, discussion, and problem solving.

Professional Component Contribution

Engineering science: 2 credits, engineering design: 1 credits.

Relationship to Program Objectives

This course supports Mechanical Engineering program objectives by developing:

  • An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to identify, formulate and solve problems in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to communicate effectively.
  • A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning in the field of mechanical engineering.
  • An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern tools necessary for the practice of mechanical engineering.
  • A knowledge of contemporary issues in the field of mechanical engineering.

Prepared by W.G. Cobourn, February 2009

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