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.