Homepage of I. I. Kaya


ENS  315  Energy Course


The Motivation and the Objective


In the course Energy, I aim to teach scientific fundamentals and concepts related to the world’s energy problem.  Prof. H. Ogelman and I started this course at Sabanci University in 2005. The energy problem needs to be taught within the academic perspective, so that the decision makers of the future are properly armed with adequate scientific background. The students are aimed to learn the energy related physical laws and processes, as well as the physical dimensions, units, and quite a bit order of magnitude numbers. The course is purely quantitative. Politics, economic feasibility, ethics, social aspects or other subjective issues are abandoned. We focus on the definite scientific facts. Students merely need the basic university physics (e.g. SU-NS101) background. Throughout the course, we go over the basic physics needed. Sufficient background of mechanics, thermodynamics, nuclear physics, and semiconductor physics is introduced before the related energy topic is discussed.

I can summarize my motivation for the Energy course as follows:

1.    Scientific evidences indicate that:

                        i.         The fossil fuels are limited worldwide.  Petroleum usage will deplete not only an important energy source but also an important raw material needed for essential products including, plastics, medicine, asphalt, electronics etc.

                       ii.         The use of fossil fuels changes the climate. The continued use of fossil fuels will possibly produce a bigger problem than their depletion.

2.    We do not know the solution to the problem yet. There seems to be no single source that can replace fossil fuels with the present technology.  All of the alternatives including nuclear energy and renewable sources have their own major problems.

3.    The problem is greatly entangled with politics and economy as well as environmental and social issues. However, the problem deserves to be discussed on a scientific basis rather than half baked ideas.








Introduction to the course: Energy fundamentals; definitions

Introduction to Physics of Energy: Energy and Power; forms of energy and conversions; efficiency; units




Critical Resources; growth patterns; historical development; future scenarios.



Fossil Fuels:

Fossil fuel formation theories; exploration and production technologies; reserves and resources; transportation of fossil fuels.


Fossil fuels:

Reserve estimation and Hubbert theory; world fossil fuel reserves; future of fossil fuels.


Fossil fuels:

Impact of fossil fuels on the environment, air pollution and its control; global warming.

First Mid-Term Exam



Thermal Energy:

Heat transfer; laws of thermodynamics; heat engines and heat pumps



Solar Energy:

Solar to Heat conversion; Solar incidence power and spectrum; Passive and active solar systems.



Solar Energy:

Principles of photovoltaics, PV technologies; PV cost vs efficiency; trends; solar thermal electric generation;



Introduction to electricity Ohm’s Law and analysis of simple circuits; batteries; fuel cells, motors; generators; transformers. Transmission and distribution of electricity, energy storage systems.

Second Mid-Term Exam



Wind energy: Wind power capacity; wind turbines and systems; trends.

Hydropower: Capacity; systems; trends.

Impact of use of renewables: prospects on the distribution and storage

Other forms of renewable energy technologies.



Nuclear energy:

Fundamentals of nuclear physics; Binding energy; Fission and fusion; radioactivity;



Nuclear energy: Generation of nuclear power: Fission reactors; fuel production; Nuclear waste management; Safety and risk assessment;

Future of nuclear energy; New reactor designs; Fusion power project.



Geothermal energy:

Its origin and capacity analysis; hydrothermal systems; hot dry rock; low-temperature geothermal systems.

Biomass energy: Renewability analysis; biomass conversion technologies.