Carnegie Mellon University
Energy Conversion and Supply

39-610 Energy Conversion & Supply

Professor Yoosuf Picard
114 Roberts Hall

This is the first course in the energy core sequence in which students learn the basic workings of the systems that supply, distribute, and utilize energy.  Students also learn about the economic forces and policy decisions that drive the development of these systems.  In this "Energy Conversion and Supply" course, fossil energy sources, nuclear energy, and renewable sources will all be considered.  The course will deal both with conventional systems and emerging systems that are envisioned for the future. The class syllabus for Fall Semester 2016 is available for more information (pdf)

Reference Texts:
    Energy Systems Engineering: Evaluation and Implementation by Francis Vanek, Louis D. Albright
    Carbon-Free Energy Supply by L.D. Danny Harvey
    Fundamentals of Renewable Energy Processes by Aldo V. da Rosa
    Introduction to Engineering and the Environment by Edward Rubin


  • Overview of historic growth trends (domestic and international) in the supply of and demand for energy, categories of energy supply and demand, pressures related to energy consumption; projections for future trends
  • Introduction to engineering tools for energy analysis, common units and metrics, fundamentals of thermodynamics and system boundaries, basic concepts and definitions, energy efficiency

Fossil Energy

  • Fossil fuels: Coal, oil, and natural gas: harvesting methods, materials for processing
  • Combustion Systems: Conventional combustion cycles, high efficiency cycles, cogeneration
  • Coal Gasification: Basics of the gasification process, conventional gasification, integrated gasification combined cycle plants
  • Fuel Cells: History and basics of operation of different fuel cell types.  Comparisons of cost and efficiency, trends in the development of solid oxide fuel cells
  • Carbon Sequestration: overview of sequestration options, photosynthesis and indirect sequestration, geological storage

Nuclear Energy

  • Nuclear Power:  The physics of and materials for nuclear reactors, fission fuel cycles, extreme environment systems, prospects for fusion
  • Reactors Design: conventional fission reactors, advanced reactor design, prospects for fusion
  • Nuclear Fuel: Manufacturing, design, and lifetime

Renewable Energy

  • Overview of solar energy: Definition of terms, available energy and spectral distribution, geographic availability, efficiency of current collection systems
  • Solar Photovoltaic: fundamentals of PV cells, factors effecting performance, economics of PV systems
  • Solar Thermal: Active solar heating systems, solar collectors and heat exchangers, passive solar heating systems
  • Tidal Energy: Total wind and tidal resources, geographic distribution, turbine systems, predicted capacity
  • Wind resources, maximum turbine efficiency, mill materials and machinery
  • Biomass: Composition, photosynthesis, wood gasifiers, ethanol production, land and water resource requirement