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Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

ETME470 "Alternative Energy Applications"

Fall Semester 2013

Instructor:   Mr. Robb Larson
306B Roberts Hall, 994-6420,

Lecture:  Roberts Hall 319
M & W, 1:10 -2:00 PM

Labs:  EPS 8F
Sec -02 Thursday 1:10-3:00 PM
Sec -03 Thursday 4:10-6:00 PM


Homework and Lab Assignments
MSU Student Code of Conduct and Behavior Expectations

Course (Catalog) Description with Pre-requisites:      
F 3 cr. LEC 2 LAB 1
PREREQUISITE: EMEC 360, ETME 340 or EMEC 341, ETME 321 or EMEC 326; or consent of instructor.
-- Experience with energy technologies including wind, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, fuel cell, biomass. and hydro-electric systems. Lecture covers practical applications, component design, and theory for devices and systems. Social, economic, geo-political, and environmental considerations are discussed. Hands-on lab activities supplemented with site visits.


General Information:
Dealing with the growing human demand for energy is described as one of the 'Grand Challenges' of our time. Engineers will be and must be a part of any viable solutions to energy-related issues.

This Professional Elective course provides students broad-based experience with several non-fossil fuel alternative / renewable energy technologies, along with background in energy usage topics.  The class lecture meetings will cover practical applications and theory for a variety of devices and systems such as wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, hydro, and other systems. Various aspects of implementation including site selection and control will be considered. Labs will add a hands-on experience, and tours of energy-related facilities are planned.

The worldwide demand for energy involves many considerations beyond conventional engineering topics. Environmental concerns such as water, air, wildlife and land use are crux topics. Energy sources and implementation affect national security and politics, and can drive social and cultural changes. Another consideration is that Energy is big business: The major players in the energy industry are financial powerhouses who employ thousands of individuals worldwide. Actually there are few aspects of our lives NOT affected by energy issues. Therefore, this course must deal broadly with many topics beyond just engineering: We'll touch on pertinent issues such as environment, politics, societal acceptance of energy alternatives - among others. Students are expected to help drive the dynamics of this course by bringing facts and opinions to the class, in order to effectively participate in classroom discussions.

Course Mechanics
Weekly attendance at lectures and labs is expected. If you must miss a session let your instructor know in advance. Homework will be assigned weekly in class or via the course website Homework page, and collected using electronic delivery via the D2L Drop-Box.

Much of the laboratory time will be devoted to practical applications, and field trips of either short- or long-duration will be planned: Short trips will be scheduled to coincide with laboratory times, and all students are expected to attend. Two or three longer-duration field trips will be also offered during the term: These may conflict with some classes, but every student will be strongly encouraged to make the proper arrangements to enable attendance. Transportation for short, local trips is the student's responsibility, with carpooling encouraged. Transportation for longer field trips and plant tours will be provided.

Course Learning Outcomes / Expected Performance Criteria

Upon successful completion of this course, students can:  

  • Discuss theoretical considerations and design of alternative energy technologies, including wind, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, geothermal heat pump, fuel cells, small/micro hydro, and other non-fossil fuel systems.
  • Understand and communicate the practical considerations of implementing alternative energy technologies, including wind, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, geothermal heat pump, small/micro hydro, and other non-fossil fuel systems.
  • Perform basic system design and component selection for alternative energy installations for residential and small business applications.
  • Perform basic economic analysis of alternative energy installations.
  • Understand the environmental, ecological, and engineering considerations and implications of utilizing alternative energy systems instead of or in concert with conventional fossil-fuel sources.
  • Understand the basic function of several fuel cell designs, including Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM), Alkaline (AFC), Phosphoric Acid (PAFC), Molten Carbonate (MCFC), and  Solid Oxide (SOFC) types, along with the design considerations needed to implement this alternative technology.
  • Understand interdisciplinary nature of alternative energy systems design.
  • Use design resources and journals to augment classroom instruction, to design, analyze, and specify the implementation of new or under-utilized energy generation and utilization technologies.
  • Work cooperatively and interactively with others in a team environment to complete a design project.
  • Design, analyze, and test various alternative energy components such as photovoltaic units and wind power electrical generation systems.
Renewable Energy, Power for a Sustainable Future. 3rd Ed. Godfrey Boyle, Oxford Press.

In addition to the required texts, several texts from previous classes will be utilized as a resource: These include a Design Text (e.g. Mott, Spotts, or Shigley), a Materials Science Text (e.g. Smith), and representative Thermodynamics, Fluids, Heat transfer, and Mechanics of Materials texts. Extensive use of handouts is planned, and on-line resources will supplement printed material for this course.

Performance and Grading:

Grading Percentages:

Quizzes and Homework


Mid-Term Exam 1


Mid-Term Exam 2


Final Exam


Lab Activities including
Attendance, Participation, Reports


TOTAL       100%

        NOTE: No late material will be accepted. Your grade depends upon timely submission of work!

       Topics Covered:

Small-scale and Medium-scale wind energy systems

Large Industrial-scale wind power electrical generation systems

Solar Thermal Systems, Components, Design, Construction and Testing

Fuel Cell types, system components, design and performance

Photovoltaic components and systems

Component design, fabrication, inspection

Ground Source Heat Pump Systems, components, System Integration

Mini and Micro Hydro components, systems, design and implementation

Electricity Basics: Motors and Generators

Electrical Energy Generation system Integration           

The US Electrical Grid, Electrical Transmission and Supply Issues

Space Heating and Cooling Fundamentals, review of Conventional and Non-Conventional Approaches

Ecological and Environmental Considerations with Wind and other Alternative Energy Systems

Social, economic, geo-political issues surrounding alternative energy applications






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