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Physics of Energy


Admission Requirements

An1(na), An2(na), Statistical Physics 1


This course develops the core Physics knowledge that underlies the concept of Energy, its sources, conversion into different forms, transport, and storage. It employs these to analyze a selection of energy sources/energy extraction technologies.
In particular, the course tackles:

  • the fundamentals of (and in particular, the theoretical understanding of energy in)

    • thermodynamical systems
    • fluid mechanics
  • energy transport (conduction, convection, radiation)

and uses these the analyze key aspects (such as resource requirements, conversion mechanisms, efficiency, output) of select (renewable) energy technologies: solar, wind, geological (geothermal, hydro, tidal, saline, oceanic, biofuels). It also examines energy storage.

The material is treated in lectures, exercise classes and in case studies done in groups and leading to a report and a presentation.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to

  • State the Thermodynamic laws, derive them from Statistical Physics principles and apply them to classical thermal cycle problems

  • Analyze and characterize fluid flows and work out problems of elementary hydrodynamics

  • Use dimensional analysis to gain insight into different energy sources and energy conversion systems.

  • Calculate the energy efficiency of energy conversion stages.

  • Calculate energy gains from energy sources.

  • Calculate energy losses due to different transport mechanisms.

  • Make estimates of resources requirements and impact of different energy extraction technologies.

  • Evaluate the merit of different energy sources based on quantitative comparisons.

  • Be able to identify areas of quantifiable improvement in the implementation of at least one energy extraction method.

Soft skills

You will be trained to

  • Work in groups.

  • Work on a project (case study) unsupervised, to clear goals, plan and deadlines

  • Identify relevant trade literature and use it selectively

  • Prepare a report of an analysis

  • Present the report in class

  • Create a question/problem on the topic of the project



Mode of Instruction

Lectures, exercise sessions, case study

Course load

4EC equivalent to 118 hours


Exam; project work (case study, report, and presentation)


Studiemateriaal kan nog eens worden opgevraagd op Blackboard.
Voor toegang tot Blackboard is een ULCN-account nodig).Blackboard UL

Reading list

part of book: - An Introduction to Statistical mechanics and Theormodynamics
R.H. Swendsen, Oxford graduate texts ISBN: 978-0-19-964694-4 (set textbook of Statistical Physics 1) - exerpts of other books available on line


Dr. H. Papathanasiou