Thermodynamics in Energy Conversion

Module number: MW1419

Duration: 1 Semester

Recurrence: Winter semester

Language: English

Number of ECTS: 5


Professor in charge: Hartmut Spliethoff

Amount of work

Class attendance: 45

Private study: 105

Total: 150

Description of Achievement and Assessment Methods

The written exam consists of a theoretical part and a calculation part (90 min in total). No tools are allowed except a non-programmable calculator and a previously distributed collection of formulas. In the theoretical part, the students have to answer basic questions about the fundamentals of thermodynamics as well as about exergy analysis and thermodynamic processes occurring in energy conversion processes. This part serves to prove that the students have understood basic concepts of thermodynamic cycles and real limitations of energy conversion processes.

In the calculation part, it is examined whether the students are able to apply the learned concepts for the calculation and optimization of energy conversion processes. The students demonstrate that they are able to calculate thermodynamic processes and cycles within a given time limit and quantify losses and optimization potentials. The theoretical part accounts for 1/3 of the total score. The calculation part is weighted with 2/3 of the total score. The total number of points is decisive for the evaluation of the test. Theory and calculation part cannot be passed individually. During the lecture period, two short tests are held to check the learning progress of the students. The time required is 20 minutes each. A bonus of 0.3 on the final grade is awarded for achieving at least 70 % of the total points from both short tests.

Prerequisites (recommended)

Basic knowledge of fundamental mathematics, physics and chemistry. An engineering background is advantageous for understanding of the course.


First part of the lecture: Fundamentals

Choosing system boundaries, mass and energy balances, first and second law of thermodynamics, open and closed systems, phase equilibria, steam tables, entropy and irreversibilities, process changes and thermodynamic cycles, exergy analysis

Part two: Application to energy conversion processes

Steam cycle: principle, calculation, optimization, comparison with ORC Gas turbine: efficiency, optimization, combination with steam circuits (combined cycle), CHP Refrigeration cycles: Cycles, Joule-Thomson effect, refrigerants, heat pumps Chemical reactions: basic concept, stoichiometry, energetic and thermodynamic aspects, combustion reactions Fuel cells: principle, advantages, calculation, electrolysis Advanced definitions of exergy to fuels (chemical exergy, exergy factors, heating value) Thermal energy storage: Application, Calculation, transient balances

Intended Learning Outcome

The students understand the laws of thermodynamics and can apply them to real problems. The basic concepts of modern energy conversion processes (e.g. thermal power plants, fuel cells) can be reproduced and evaluated with regard to their efficiency and optimization potential.

Teaching and Learning Methods

During the lecture, the content of the course is communicated via power point slides. In addition, blackboard drawings, further graphic illustrations and regular discussions serve to understand the energy conversion processes dealt with and the exergy losses occurring in them. The students are encouraged to actively participate in the discussion. The preparation and follow-up of the contents by means of own notes and the provided lecture slides is necessary in order to be able to grasp the basic principles of power plant processes including their components completely. In the exercises, example processes will be calculated and thus the procedure for solving thermodynamic problems will be shown. In addition, the exercise offers the opportunity to further discuss the contents of the lecture. Online self-tests are offered during the lecture to give students the opportunity to self-check their level of knowledge.


Power point presentations, drawings on the blackboard, videos, images, online-tests


Lecture slides, handouts, literature recommendations will be given Moran, Michael J. ; Shapiro, Howard N. ; Boettner, Daisie D. ; Bailey, Margaret B.: Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics. New York: Wiley, 2014.