Due to the Corona virus education methods or examination can deviate. For the latest news please check the course page in Brightspace.


nl en

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