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Thermodynamics for Energy Conversion

Module MW1419

This Module is offered by Chair of Energy Systems (Prof. Spliethoff).

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2019/20 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
WS 2019/20WS 2017/8SS 2013WS 2012/3

Basic Information

MW1419 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of non-physics elective courses
Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 45 h 5 CP

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


First part of the lecture: Fundamentals
Choosing system boundaries, mass and energy balances, first and second law of thermodynamics, open and closed systems, phase equilibria, steam tables, entropy and irreversibilities, process changes and thermodynamic cycles, exergy analysis

Part two: Application to energy conversion processes
Steam cycle: principle, calculation, optimization, comparison with ORC
Gas turbine: efficiency, optimization, combination with steam circuits (combined cycle), CHP
Refrigeration cycles: Cycles, Joule-Thomson effect, refrigerants, heat pumps
Chemical reactions: basic concept, stoichiometry, energetic and thermodynamic aspects, combustion reactions
Fuel cells: principle, advantages, calculation, electrolysis
Advanced definitions of exergy to fuels (chemical exergy, exergy factors, heating value)
Thermal energy storage: Application, Calculation, transient balances

Learning Outcome

The students understand the laws of thermodynamics and can apply them to real problems. The basic concepts of modern energy conversion processes (e.g. thermal power plants, fuel cells) can be reproduced and evaluated with regard to their efficiency and optimization potential.


Basic knowledge of fundamental thermodynamics (first and second law, energy balaces), profund knowledge of mathematical relations and notation.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

During the lecture, the content of the course is communicated via power point slides. In addition, blackboard drawings, further graphic illustrations and regular discussions serve to understand the energy conversion processes dealt with and the exergy losses occurring in them. The students are encouraged to actively participate in the discussion. The preparation and follow-up of the contents by means of own notes and the provided lecture slides is necessary in order to be able to grasp the basic principles of power plant processes including their components completely. In the exercises, example processes will be calculated and thus the procedure for solving thermodynamic problems will be shown. In addition, the exercise offers the opportunity to further discuss the contents of the lecture. Online self-tests are offered during the lecture to give students the opportunity to self-check their level of knowledge.


Power point presentations, drawings on the blackboard, videos, images, online-tests


Lecture slides, handouts, literature recommendations will be given

Moran, Michael J. ; Shapiro, Howard N. ; Boettner, Daisie D. ; Bailey, Margaret B.: Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics. New York: Wiley, 2014.

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The written exam consists of a theoretical part and a calculation part (90 min in total). No tools are allowed except a non-programmable calculator and a previously distributed collection of formulas.

In the theoretical part, the students have to answer basic questions about the fundamentals of thermodynamics as well as about exergy analysis and thermodynamic processes occurring in energy conversion processes. This part serves to prove that the students have understood basic concepts of thermodynamic cycles and real limitations of energy conversion processes.

In the calculation part, it is examined whether the students are able to apply the learned concepts for the calculation and optimization of energy conversion processes. The students demonstrate that they are able to calculate thermodynamic processes and cycles within a given time limit and quantify losses and optimization potentials.

The theoretical part accounts for 1/3 of the total score. The calculation part is weighted with 2/3 of the total score. The total number of points is decisive for the evaluation of the test. Theory and calculation part cannot be passed individually.

During the lecture period, an excercise (two Online Selftests) is held to check the learning progress of the students during the semester. The time required is 20 minutes each. A bonus of 0.3 on the final grade of the passed exam is awarded for achieving at least 70 % of the total points from both short tests.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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