ECEN 4555/5555 – Principles of Energy Systems & Devices

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

Professor G. Moddel

Please check the announcements and schedule regularly – Last update: 21 Dec 2018


  • The solution to the final exam is posted below.  Have a great break. Please come and pick up your graded exam in January – email me first to make sure I’ll be there.
  • Have an idea on how to build a better air conditioner? Here’s a competition.
  • After our discussion of the structure of water I came across this recent article. What do you think is causing this?
  • Video explaining irreversibility (thanks to Margaret Vader)


General Course Information



Individual issues


Final exam solution (Grad median: 80, Undergrad median: 73)

Midterm solution (Grad median: 43/50, Undergrad median: 40/50)







Aug 27

General introduction

Reading: Air-powered car and here and  here

Aug 29  Gas compression

Reading: Ch. 1

Aug 31  Heat capacity


Sep 3   Labor day. No class.

Sep 5   Enthalpy and thermal conductivity

HW1 due

Sep 7   Statistical approach

Reading:  Ch. 2


Sep 10   Elements of quantum mechanics

Reading: Appendix A

HW2 due

Sep 12  Never

Sep 14  Defining entropy


Sep 17 Temperature

Reading: Maxwell’s Demon, & start Ch. 3

HW3 due

Sep 19  Chemical potential & pressure

Reading: Ch. 3

Sep 21  Gas expansion


Sep 24

Reading: Ch. 4  Carnot cycle

steam engine

HW4 due

Sep 26  Internal combustion engines

Sep 28  Refrigerators


Oct 1

Absorption refrigerator

HW5 due

Oct 3  Joule-Thomson coefficient

Oct 5  



Oct 8  Electrolysis & fuel cells

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

HW6 due

Oct 10

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

Batteries & electrochemical capacitors

Oct 12

A better lithium-ion battery  more here


Oct 15  

Reading: 5.3 through p. 179 Phase transformations

Optional reading: Structure of water versus this and this
HW7 due

Oct 17   Coexistence

Oct 19 


Oct 22

Midterm Exam  Covers material through HW7

Formula sheet that will be handed out is here

Oct 24   Rain

Reading: Gaia and cloud seeding

Oct 26   Boltzmann factor & Partition function

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

 partition function


Oct 29  Maxwell speed distribution
HW8 due

Oct 31

Nov 2

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


Nov 5 

HW9 due

Nov 7   Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions

Nov 9   Degenerate Fermi gas

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


Nov 12   Density of states

HW10 due

Nov 14  Semiconductor statistics

Required reading  (in reading, tau = kT)

(can omit Degenerate Semiconductors, pp.365-368)

Nov 16


Nov 19

Fall break. No class.                

Nov 21

Fall break. No class.

Nov 23

Thanksgiving. No class.


Nov 26

HW11 due

Nov 28

Reading: Ch. 7.4 Blackbody radiation

Optional reading: Fractional bandwidth normalizaation

Nov 30  Light efficiency


Dec 3  Radiation entropy & pressure; arrow of time

HW12 due

Dec 5  Radiation flux, detailed balance

The origin of color

Dec 7  Greenhouse effect

Optional reading: Harvesting radiant energy from

the Earth


Dec 10  Psi and thermodynamics

Optional readings: Stock market prediction

Entropy & retrocausation

HW13 due

Dec 12   Dualism in physical law


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

Dec 14


Dec 18 (Tuesday) 

Final exam: 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm