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SUS 7900B Sustainable Energy Conversion Systems

Sustainability in the Urban Environment

SUS 7900B Sustainable Energy Conversion Systems

Fall 2017. Subject to refinement/updating.


Instructor: Professor Jorge E. Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Schedule: Monday, Wednesday; 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Location: TBA
3 credits 3 hrs/week


Professor Jorge E. Gonzalez, Ph.D.
NOAA CREST Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Office: Steinman Hall, Room 238
Tel: 212-650-5279; email:


Contemporary energy conversion systems, energy resources and factors affecting the rate of global energy consumption. Comparison of conventional and renewable energy conversion systems, including limitations and efficiency of each, and the comparative impacts on the environment.  Applications include steam, gas, wind, and hydro turbine systems, internal combustion engines, fuel cells, solar energy converters, tidal and wave energy converters.


Those interested in taking this course are encouraged to email the instructor with a description of their background and learning objectives. Please also contact George Smith at

ENGR 23000 - Thermodynamics (or equivalent) and ME 35600 - Fluid Mechanics (or equivalent.)


1. Engineering Thermodynamics
2. Introduction to Fluid Mechanics
3. Computer Programming.


  • To introduce the student to the subject of global energy activity and resources, and associated environmental impacts
  • To introduce the student to conventional power generation systems, and to the quantification of their effectiveness via thermodynamics analysis
  • To train the students in quantifying environmental impacts from conventional power generation systems
  • To introduce the student to energy technologies in the transportation sector, to associated fuels, and to quantify the environmental impacts of the choices of technologies and fuels in this sector
  • To train the student to quantify renewable energy resources using in-situ and remote sensors technologies, to quantify associated power generation from renewable energy technologies, and to life-cycle analysis of these technologies
  • To motivate the student to critical thinking on the subject of energy conversion and the environment.

Course Requirements

Attendance and Behavior:

Attendance is mandatory. Student is expected to behave professionally with proper attire for a classroom.

Computer Usage:

Computers are employed in this course as an instructional tool. Students are required to integrate self generated programs with commercially available and industrial software packages to be discussed in class and for the purpose of energy conversion processes. Any programming language is acceptable. 


Textbook: J.A Fay and D.S. Golomb, Energy and The Environment: Scientific and Technological Principles, Oxford 2011. ISBN-13: 978-0199765133. (Recommended).


  1. S. Pacala and R. Socolow, 2004, Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, Science, 305, 968-972.
  2. Gonzalez Cruz, J., P. Sequera, Y. Molina, R. Picon, J. Pillich, A. T. Ghebreegziabhe, and B. Bornstein, 2013: Climate and Energy Vulnerability in Coastal Regions: The Case for US Pacific and Northeast Corridor Coastal Regions. Climate Vulnerability: Understanding and Addressing Threats to Essential Resources.  R. Pielke, Ed. Elsevier Inc., Academic Press, 3–35 pp.  ISBN: 9780123847034.
  3. El-Wakil, M.M., Power Plant Technology, Mcgraw-Hill, 1984.
  4. D.B. Turner, Workbook of Atmospheric Dispersion Estimates, 1994, Lewis Press. 
  5. F. Kreith and J.F. Kreider, Principles of Sustainable Energy, 2011, CRC Press. 
  6. Handbook of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, F. Kreith & Y. Goswami Eds. 2007. CRC Press. 
  7. J.A. Duffie and W.A. Beckman, Solar Engineering of Thermal Processes, 2006, John Wiley. 
  8. Angrist, S.W., Direct Energy Conversion, Allyn and Bacon, 1982.
  9. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Socolow, Anderson, and Harte, Editors.  
  10. Several other technological and scientific articles to be given in class.


  1. Homework will be assigned from class notes, and solutions will be due one week after assigned.
  2. Three quizzes will be administered during the semester, the highest two scores will be considered for grade. 
  3. Two 70 minutes long midterm exam with score of 100 points each will be given during the semester along with one final examination.
  4. One term paper will be assigned during the semester on topics related to energy sustainable conversion processes and/or devices.
  5. The final grade will be calculated using the following weight factors:
  • Mid Term Exam – 40 %
  • Final Exam – 25%
  • Quizzes – 10%
  • Term Technical Paper – 15%
  • Homework – 10%

6. Final Grade will be determined based on the following score

A - 90% and above
B – 78% - 89%
C – 62% - 77%

Course Outline

Based on 15 lecture weeks, allowing 3 weeks for exams, field trip to the Rutgers Eco Complex ( ) or equivalent, and project discussions. 

Specific Topics:

  • Global energy use and supply.
  • Energy and climate change. 
  • Thermodynamic principles of energy conversion.
  • Fossil-fueled power plants.
  • Internal combustion engines and transportation.
  • Wind energy.
  • Hydro and tidal energy systems.
  • Solar thermal energy conversion and photovoltaic generators.
  • Fuel cells.
  • Quantifying environmental impacts of energy conversion processes.
  • Contemporary energy conversion topics.


Subject and Description



Conventional Energy Module


Week 1

A review of global energy demands and available conventional resources; global carbon balance; environmental impacts of energy activity as reflected by global warming; environmental impacts of energy resource extraction; role of energy efficiency in reducing environmental impacts of energy activity.

References [1,2, 9]


Class notes;


Chapters 1-2, 9










2 & 3

Review of thermodynamics concepts of energy systems; fossil fuel power plants; combined heat and power systems. 

Chapters 3-4


Reference [3]

Week 4

Introduction to environmental impacts of fossil fuel power plants; air pollution analysis.

Chapter 10


Reference [4]

Week 5

MidTerm No 1


Renewable Energy Module


Week 6

Introduction to renewable energy resources and technologies; Use of satellites for renewable energy resources.

Class notes


Reference [6] 






HW#2 &  #3






6 & 7

Principles of solar radiation; solar energy resource; solar thermal and PV technologies; economics of solar technologies; case study. 

Class notes


Chapter 8


References [6-8]

Week 8

Wind energy resource and technologies; wind farms; off-shore technologies; economics of wind energy technologies; case study.

Class notes


Chapter 8


References [5-6]

Week 9

Hydropower resources and technologies; connections of climate change and water resources for hydropower; case study. 

Class notes


Chapter 8


References [5-6]

Week 10

MidTerm No 2


Energy Conversion for the Transportation Section



11 & 12

Review of energy in the transportation sector; internal combustion systems; use of biofuels for transportation; fuel cells, electric vehicles; the challenge of biofuels and land use.  


4 & 9


Reference [5]




Week 13

Geothermal and wave energy technologies and systems.

Class notes


Chapter 8