Energy and Environment

Theme: Energy and Environment

The Energy and Environment theme conducts cutting-edge research, in evolving and vital areas that address societal needs for well-designed and well-operated buildings, energy, transportation, and water systems. These critical systems must be reliable and resilient in the face of hazards such as earthquakes and flooding. Extensive efforts will be needed to adapt civil infrastructure to withstand adverse changes in weather and climate. Our research and teaching serve the needs of a growing and increasingly urban world population that requires sustainable improvements in standards of living.

Energy and Environment Microcourses

E215A: Nuclear Energy and the Environment

Electricity production from nuclear energy is highly concentrated and free of green-house gasses. The pressure to decarbonize electricity generation is leading many to think of nuclear as a near term solution. Nevertheless, public opinion remains in general skeptical of nuclear. This course aims to familiarize students with nuclear energy, the way it is produced, and its overall environmental impact. The course will cover fundamental characteristics of nuclear energy, will provide students with a practical understanding of nuclear reactors, and will review the benefits and the challenges that nuclear energy can provide.

E215B: Molten Salt Chemistry

The course will provide an overview of the fundamentals of the molten salt chemistry that an engineer should understand in order to work on design of molten salt systems. The focus is primarily on molten halide salts (fluorides, chlorides). The topics discussed include chemistry, thermodynamics, and salt properties. They also include transport of chemical species in a flowing loop. They also include several applications to corrosion in molten salt, and specifically corrosion in flowing loop with a thermal gradient. Phase diagrams will be introduced from the point of view of how a phase diagram is constructed, and what kind of information can be derived from it that would be useful to a designer of a molten salt system.

E217B: Ocean Engineering, A Crash Course

Ocean Engineering is gaining a renewed flood of attention as energy companies (oil, mining, renewables) eagerly look for extra resources in the oceans, entailing concerns about the environment and the planet. This course intends to introduce the basics of engineering principles for working in the area of ocean engineering. Specifically, topics of wave dynamics, wave, wind and current loads on ocean structures, cables and mooring, and underwater acoustics are covered. Each lecture is accompanied with examples from real-life problems, and for each subject a review of state of the art applications is provided through videos and presentations.

E210A: A First Course in Renewable Energy

This is an engineering introduction to renewable energy technologies and potentials. The course aims to introduce a general engineering/science audience to the basic concepts of renewable energy. Topics to be covered include Solar Energy, Ocean Energy, Wind Energy, and Geothermal Energy. Some mathematical criteria will be covered, e.g. Betz limit for wind, limit of WEC point absorber. Each lecture contains several examples from real world applications and in-progress industrial developments.

E217C: Ocean Engineering, from Model Testing to Modern Drag Reduction Techniques

Ocean engineering is a vibrant field of engineering, with potential for great economic and societal impacts. When novel concepts are envisioned, the first step if often model scale testing that may be accompanied by numerical modelling. Case studies from academic and industrial research on developments in ocean engineering will be discussed. A chosen focus topic is frictional drag reduction for marine vehicles and other ocean engineering applications – green2. We cover the hot topics, history of over optimism and settling, physical limits and future promise. With experience from taking concepts through small-scale laboratory studies, to Re = O(2×108) experiments utilizing national facilities, and finally leading multimillion dollar sea trials at full-scale, your instructor will discuss topics from basics of model testing to modern and upcoming state-of-art techniques of practical relevance that have already delivered significant emission and cost reduction.

E211B: Manufacturing in a Climate Emergency

The current rapid evolution of manufacturing technology is reshaping where, when, and by whom objects are produced. In particular, the emergence of increasingly sophisticated additive manufacturing processes, coupled with greater automation, mean that mass customization, decentralized production and more complex geometries and material combinations are now more attainable than ever before. The environmental impacts of these new ways of transforming material are challenging to quantify and are subject to a wide range of differing opinions and assumptions. This course provides participants with a framework for critically analyzing new processing routes, so that decisions can be made with a clearer view of their implications for energy consumption, recyclability, and consumption of finite resources.

E216A: Environmental degradation

This course gives an introduction in environmental degradation of materials since most structural materials are used in a non-inert environment. A basic understanding of corrosion mechanisms in aqueous and high temperature gas systems is provided in addition to specific catastrophic failure mechanisms such as localized corrosion allowing the students to judge the suitability of a material for a specific application.

E216B: Soil Liquefaction 101: Triggering, Consequences and Mitigation

One of the leading causes of damage during earthquakes is soil liquefaction, and it can have devastating consequences on critical infrastructure such as dams, ports and other lifelines. This course will serve as a great introduction of the phenomenon of soil liquefaction, as well as go into details on simplified and advanced methods of analyses. Specifically, the phenomenon of soil liquefaction will be presented, as well as empirical and mechanistic methods to determine soil liquefaction triggering and post-liquefaction strength loss and its consequences for a range of materials (gravels, sands and silty soils). Laboratory and field testing to collect data that helps determine liquefaction triggering and post-liquefaction soil behavior (e.g. strength loss, dilation, and hardening) will be discussed. The state of the art with respect to numerical modelling of liquefaction will also be included, as well as relevant constitutive soil models. Finally, possible mitigation measures will be presented.

E211A: Nexus of Water, Land and Energy in a Sustainable World

Are we running out of energy, land and water? Although the total land area and the volume of water remain constant, their use is under pressure. Energy consumption also increases. Growing population, increasing demand for food, expanding cities, quest for energy, industrialization, and irrational policy are all contributing towards global and local stresses. We will explore the challenges to the availability of water, energy and land as well as potential solutions to the impending crises. We will discuss new technologies for water management, energy production and consumption, and land stewardship. Case studies related to the developing water-land-energy nexus will be presented.

E210B: Energy Systems Engineering

Climate change is arguably the preeminent issue of our time. The transition to a clean energy society can help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The energy systems engineer’s role is to deeply understand the challenges and develop creative solutions. This course provides students with an overview of clean energy challenges and opportunities. Challenges include urbanization, renewable energy integration, and sectors that are difficult to decarbonize. Opportunities include clean energy generation technologies, energy storage, microgrids, and electrified transportation. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the challenges facing a clean energy transition, and will investigate technological solutions.

E212: The Physics of Water-Enabled Technology

This course will enable students to understand the fundamental principles and evaluate the engineering feasibility of contemporary and future technology that relies heavily on the physics of water flow. Application areas for the technology include: energy storage, generation, and transmission; material processing and separation; environmental and climate dynamics. Key concepts include: turbulence, boundary layers, suspension flows, and solute transport. Description: The physics of water flow is an enabling element in technologies both new and old. The physics is comprised of familiar laws and straightforward principles, but these do require careful treatment. Like any other system comprised of many small parts, there are common patterns that emerge from the sum of many small motions and cannot be predicted easily from the basics. The challenge for a working engineer or manager is knowing when these “emergent” patterns can be reliably extrapolated from one system from another, when they can be controlled, and how they can be connected to the basic laws of physics when a “sanity check” is needed. This micro-course attempts to do that by examining key principles in water physics through the lens of contemporary technology. This technology includes membranes, turbines, flow cytometers, treatment ponds, gas exchangers, and atomizers. This micro-course works well alongside one on waves.

E217A: Physics and Math of Ocean Waves

This course will enable students to understand the applied physics of ocean waves and understand the mathematical approaches used in many cutting-edge prediction tools. Description: The mathematics of ocean waves are as important as the physics, because they are translated to other types of applications, and because they are essential in planning wave energy extraction methods. In fact, these mathematical approaches are given the privilege of being used even when they do not match well with the actual behavior of water waves! This micro-course introduces the physics of real ocean waves and the major mathematical approaches to describing them. Attention is paid to when the mathematical approaches are and are not accurate, and when they are and are not useful. The measurement techniques that have revealed the actual physical behavior of wave physics are included, along with ways in which these are expected to evolve in the coming decades.

E216C: Sustainable Design of Solid Waste Landfills: Stability and Settlement Considerations

This micro-course will aim to educate students and engineers of practice on two critical design and operation aspects of Municipal Solid Waste landfills, namely their stability and settlement behavior. Stability of landfills is critical to ensure the safe operation of the containment facilities and the minimization of adverse impacts to the environment. The principles that govern the design of landfills for stability will be covered, followed by a presentation of the methodologies to be followed, important considerations when performing stability analysis, and finally lessons learned from such failures. In addition to the stability of landfills under static conditions, the methodologies to analyze landfills for seismic conditions will be considered. The third module of the course will focus on the settlement behavior of Municipal Solid Waste, which is critical to ensure the functionality of landfill components such as the cover system and the gas control system that control biogas leaks to the environment, as well as the post-closure development of the landfill. Models used to estimate landfill settlements along with appropriate properties of the waste materials, and methodologies to collect settlement data in the field will be presented.