ECEN 4555/5555 – Principles of Energy Systems & Devices

Fall 2018 – MWF 3:00 – 3:50 pm, ECEE 265

Professor G. Moddel

Not updated for Fall 2018 yet – Last update: 18 Dec 2016


  • Course Description: Understanding systems & device technology for renewable energy requires knowledge of aspects of thermodynamics, electronic and radiant devices, materials and nanostructures.  This course provides a foundation in statistical thermodynamics, and uses it to analyze the operation and efficiency limits of devices for
    • photovoltaics,
    • energy storage (batteries & ultra-capacitors)
    • chemical conversion (fuel cells & engines)
    • heat pumps, cooling
    • lighting
    • even the harvesting zero-point energy from the vacuum.


  • Is this course for you?

o   Part of the new Nanostructures & Devices track for ECEE undergrads

o   Expected to be part of the new Energy minor for ECEE undergrads

o   Available to graduate students in a variety of areas of EE

o   Provides fundamental understanding of energy

o   Available to grads & undergrads in a variety of disciplines, including

·       Chemical & Biological Engineering

·       Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering

·       Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry

·       Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology

·       Physics



General Course Information



Individual issues








Aug 22

General introduction

Reading: Air-powered car and here and  here

Aug 24  Gas compression

Reading: Ch. 1

Aug 26  Heat capacity


Aug 29  Enthalpy and thermal conductivity

HW1 due

Aug 31  Statistical approach

Reading:  Ch. 2

Sep 2  Elements of quantum mechanics

Reading: Appendix A


Sep 5

Labor day. No class.

Sep 7  Never

HW2 due

Sep 9  Defining entropy

Reading: Maxwell’s Demon


Sep 12 Temperature

Reading: Ch. 3

HW3 due

Sep 14  Chemical potential & pressure

Sep 16  Gas expansion

steam engine


Sep 19

Reading: Ch. 4  Carnot cycle

HW4 due

Sep 21  Internal combustion engines

Sep 23  Refrigerators


Sep 26

Absorption refrigerator

HW5 due

Sep 28  Joule-Thomson coefficient

Sep 30   Electrolysis & fuel cells

Reading: 5.1-5.2 Chemical thermodynamics; fuel cell power pack


Oct 3

Reading (skim to understand main issues and types of storage);

Batteries & electrochemical capacitors

HW6 due

Oct 5

A better lithium-ion battery  more here

Oct 7

Reading: 5.3 through p. 179 Phase transformations

Power from osmosis


Oct 10

Optional reading: Structure of water versus this

If intrigued, watch this
HW7 due

Oct 12  Coexistence

Oct 14  Rain

Reading: Gaia and cloud seeding


Oct 17

Midterm Exam  Covers material through HW7

Formula sheet that will be handed out is here

Oct 20  Boltzmann factor

Reading: Ch. 6 (can omit pp. 232-241) Boltzmann factor and the

 partition function

Oct 21  Partition function


Oct 24
HW8 due

Oct 26

Reading: Ch. 7.1-7.2 Gibbs factor & distribution functions

Oct 28


Oct 31  Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions

HW9 due

Nov 2  Degenerate Fermi gas

Reading: Ch. 7.3 (can omit pp. 283-284) Electrons in solids

Nov 4  Density of states


Nov 7  Semiconductor statistics

Required reading (in reading, tau = kT)

HW10 due

Nov 9

Nov 11


Nov 14

HW11 due                               

Nov 16

Reading: Ch. 7.4 Blackbody radiation

Nov 18

Optional reading: Fractional bandwidth normalizaation


Nov 21

Fall break. No class.

Nov 23

Fall break. No class.

Nov 25

Thanksgiving. No class.


Nov 28  Radiation entropy & pressure; arrow of time

HW12 due

Nov 30  Radiation flux, detailed balance

The origin of color

Dec 2  Greenhouse effect

Optional reading: Harvesting radiant energy from

the Earth


Dec 5  Psi and thermodynamics

Optional readings: Stock market prediction

Entropy & retrocausation

HW13 due

Dec 7  

Optional reading:  Zero-point energy extraction 

     non-technical article    full paper

Also video: New Energy Technologies: What Can We Believe?

Dec 9

Dualism in physical law


Dec 14 (Wednesday) 

Final exam: 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm