Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Philip C Malte
ENVIR 341
Seattle Campus

Energy and Environment

Energy use. Fossil energy conversion. Oil, gas, coal resources. Air impacts. Nuclear energy principles, reactors, fuel cycle. Prerequisite: either MATH 112, MATH 124, or Q SCI 291; either CHEM 120, CHEM 142, CHEM 144, PHYS 114, or PHYS 121. Offered: jointly with CHEM E 341/M E 341; A.

Class description

Energy and Environment (M E/CHEM E/ENVIR 341) offers the student an introduction to energy and the environmental consequences of energy use. Underlying fundamentals as well as current trends and practices are taught. The course is of interest to engineering, environmental science, and environmental studies students, and well as to other students wishing to take an introductory course on energy. The main topics covered, and the learning goals for each are listed as follows: 1) Energy use in the US and world. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the types, amounts, proportions, and history of energy use in the US and world. Consumption of the primary energies (oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and the renewables) relative to end-point uses (electricity, heat, motive power) is covered. (3 lectures) 2) Energy resources. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the fossil energy resources of the planet, how much has been used, and how much is thought to still be available. The course looks at ways the energy resources are estimated. It also looks at unconventional energy resources and their potential development. (3 lectures) 3) Energy conversion. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the ways in which the primary energies are converted into electricity, heat, and motive power. This includes a look at steam-electric power plants, combined cycle power plants, gas turbine engines, and automotive engines. The pros and cons of each are discussed. Emerging technologies and fuels are also discussed. This topic is closely linked to the next two topics. (4 lectures) 4) Efficiency, capacity, capacity factor, and energy generation. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the inherent efficiencies of the energy conversion technologies, and the fundamentals underlying their efficiency. It is also important to understand their capacity (power), capacity factor, and to be able to estimate the energy produced for given use conditions. (2 lectures) 5) Pollution. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the pollution impacts of the energy conversion technologies, and why some are cleaner than others. The pollutant impacts are divided into ground-level air pollution, regional air pollution, global climate change, and stratospheric ozone depletion. Land, water, and social impacts are also addressed. (4 lectures) 6) Energy economics. Learning goal: the student is introduced to energy economics, with the goal of learning to distinguish between capital cost and the cost of producing the energy, and being able to estimate the cost of energy for given conditions. Environmental and social costs not normally considered in energy economics are also addressed. (2 lectures) 7) Renewable energy. Learning goal: gain and understanding of the renewable energies available, where they stand with respect to integration into the energy picture, and what the future might hold. The coverage tries to point out the best opportunities for renewable energy. (3 lectures) 8) Nuclear energy. Learning goal: develop an understanding of the underlying principles of nuclear energy conversion, the nuclear power plant practices in place today, and the considerations that will need to be faced regarding nuclear energy. (4 lectures) 9) Energy solutions to global climate change. Learning goal: develop an understanding of possibilities for carbon sequestration and renewable energy for mitigating global climate change. (2 lectures) 10) Energy policy perspectives. Learning goals: the course is concluded with a discussion of energy policy, with a view to the future and to barriers faced in policy making. (2 lectures)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The method of instruction is fairly typical. One-hour lectures are offered three days a week, with discussion included. Weekly homework assignments are given, there is a mid-term exam, and there is a final exam. The instructor and teaching assistant hold office hours several times a week to permit students to seek individual help and to discuss energy/environment issues in additional depth or breadth.

Recommended preparation

Students taking this course should have background in math and science.

The prerequisites are: Math: either MATH 112, MATH 124, or Q SCI 291 Science: either CHEM 120, CHEM 142, PHYS 114, or PHYS 121

The course textbook will be: Hinrichs, R.A. and Kleinbach, M., Energy, Its Use and the Environment, 3rd Edition, 2002, Harcourt College Publishers. The UW Bookstore has been requested to obtain this text. It will probably be placed under ME 341 on the Bookstore shelves.

Students are encouraged to visit the course web site (given below), where they may view previous lecture notes, homework assignments, and exams.

Class assignments and grading

Homework assignments are given on a weekly basis, for a total of ten assignments over the quarter. Typically, the assignments are made on Friday, and are due the following Friday. About 2/3rds of the assignments involve the analysis of energy data or the calculation of energy system performance and pollutant impacts. The other 1/3rd of the assignments involve discussion of energy trends, environmental impacts and mitigation, and energy policy.

Your final grade will be based on the following requirements and percentages:

1. Ten homework assignments, about one per week, which will count for 40% of your course grade. Homework assignments must be submitted by the start of class on the day due. Typically, the assignments will be made on Friday, and submitted the following Friday.

2. A one-hour in-class mid-term exam will be given in the 5th or 6th week of the course. The mid-term exam will count for 24% of your course grade. The mid-term exam will be open-book, closed-notes. Each student may bring a 2-page crib sheet to the exam and refer to this during the exam.

3. A two-hour in-classroom final exam will be given during finals week. The final exam will only be offered at one time. The final exam will count for 36% of your course grade. The final exam will be open-book, closed-notes. Each student may bring a 5-page crib sheet to the final exam and refer to this during the exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Web Site
Last Update by Philip C Malte
Date: 03/26/2005