Solar Energy and Renewable Fuels (SERF) Laboratory

The University of Texas at Austin

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Course Description: This project-oriented undergraduate course addresses the design and analysis of systems in which thermal and fluid processes are central to function and performance. Fundamental topics, such as thermodynamics of non-reacting and reacting gas mixtures, psychrometrics, gas and vapor power cycles, and heat exchanger design, are covered in the context of the specific project adopted that semester. The projects require student groups to create computer models, validate these models against real data, and perform parametric studies on system performance under different scenarios. Previous semester projects include (i) the combined heat and power (CHP) system located at the UT Austin power plant, (ii) LM2500 gas turbine system at UT Austin power plant, (iii) the regenerative gas turbine system (Solar Turbines) at the Dell Children’s Hospital  power plant in Austin TX, and (iv) a hypothetical concentrated solar thermal power plant designed to operate in Austin, TX.

Course Description: This is a graduate level core course focused on expanding the students’ fundamental knowledge of thermodynamics. Equilibrium thermodynamics of single and multi-phase, single and multi-component, and chemically reactive systems are studied in detail. Advanced topics such as thermal, mechanical, and chemical stability, chemical potentials in external fields, thermodynamics of radiation, thermodynamics of biological systems, and non-equilibrium thermodynamics in the linear regime are covered. The course also includes a brief introduction to statistical thermodynamics, providing the students with a molecular level perspective on the fundamental concepts related to energy and entropy. Finally, system level analysis methods including exergy and thermo-economic analysis techniques are demonstrated.

Course Description: This core undergraduate course is an introduction to the three modes of heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation) and to problems where combinations of these modes occur. Applications to practical systems, especially for energy efficiency and renewable power systems, are stressed. The course objectives are to provide the student with an understanding of the physical processes involved in heat transfer, to develop their analytical skills, and to increase their ability to handle realistic engineering problems.

ME 339 Heat Transfer

ME 343 Thermal Fluid Systems

Course Description: This graduate course centers on the derivation, solution methods, and applications of the radiative transfer equation (RTE), to determine the intensity, heat flux, and temperature fields in systems containing participating (absorbing, emitting, and scattering) media. Radiative properties of molecular gases and small particles are studied in detail, including the use radiative property databases such as HITRAN for gases as well as Mie theory and T-matrix methods for particles. Common and contemporary solution methods for gray and spectrally resolved cases are shown for the RTE, including discrete ordinates, spherical harmonics, and Monte-Carlo methods. Finally, coupling of radiative heat flux with the energy equation for combined mode heat transfer problems are discussed and demonstrated.

ME 381R5 Radiation Transport in Participating Media

ME 381Q Advanced Thermodynamics for Engineers