This course aims to convey the fundamental elements of thermodynamics. The course starts with kinetic gas theory to emphasize the molecular foundations of thermodynamics. Then definitions and basic applications of the first and second law are discussed. A variety of state functions like energy, enthalpy and entropy are defined and extensively used. The theory of phase changes is discussed and illustrated with various phase diagrams. Students will learn the characteristics and efficiencies of a variety of thermodynamic cycles including Carnot, Diesel, Otto, and Rankine.
In addition to giving students a basic theoretical background, many practical applications of thermodynamics are reviewed throughout the course. These include heat engines, combustion engines, turbines, heat pumps and cooling systems. We will study both closed systems, where no matter can move in or out, as well as open systems where matter can pass through. Students also consider the relationship between engineering and society. They will analyze early energy transitions like those of the industrial evolution and the introduction of the combustion engine. By the end of the course students combine their insights in thermodynamic processes to optimize a power plan with regard to cost, environmental impact or other criteria.
Throughout the course students will also work on further developing academic skills: they will write a paper, extensively practice problem-solving skills, do group work, and orally present results.