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Unit information: Power Generation and Propulsion in 2020/21

Unit name Power Generation and Propulsion
Unit code MENGM0055
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Joe Quarini
Open unit status Not open

A-level Physics and Mathematics, Fluid mechanics (to 1st year undergraduate level), H level in either Fluids, Thermo or Heat Transfer disciplines, or equivalent.



School/department Department of Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


The focus of the unit is Energy. Specifically, it covers two major synergistic and interconnected elements of the ‘energy business’; the first deals with how we harvest energy in a form which satisfies modern society’s needs, i.e. Power Generation. The second, addresses how we use it to provide movement and transport i.e. Propulsion.The power generation component covers a comprehensive matrix of electrical power production methods including conventional fossil-based systems, nuclear as well as emphasising the renewable options. All the major generic power generation processes (thermal via heat engines to mechanical and then electrical, renewable technologies, including wind, wave, tide, geothermal and direct solar conversion) will be studied. The emphasis of propulsion component is on understanding and applying the physical principles which control movement and propulsion in different environments, including space, air, sea, and land. Some of the elegant engineering devices used to ‘convert’ energy and power into thrust and propulsion will the studied and critically assessed. Throughout the unit, the costs, impacts and consequences of different forms of energy use have on society and the environment will be explored. Up-to-date material and data will be used to help rank of the merits of different power generation and transport methods possible in a dispassionate and logical manner.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

1. Compare the different and established forms of power generation and rank these in terms of efficiency, cost, and environmental impact.
2. Use engineering principles when faced with a new form of power generation to quantify its merits by undertaking calculations.
3. Identify the multi-faceted problems and challenges faced by the power generation industry, list possible solutions and calculate their cost saving and energy efficiency.
4. Estimate/compute/predict the theoretical power requirements for specific propulsion duties, realistic power requirements of practice engineering propulsion systems.
5. Select specific propulsion types for specific duties, and make informed decisions and choices enabling the optimisation of the complete system, bearing in mind that these must be fit-for-purpose.
6. Consider energy use, power generation, propulsion and transport in the context of a modern society, discussing the cost to the environment (e.g. carbon foot print), and societal and political pressures on future systems (e.g. the balance between perceived wealth generation, environmental impact and the general move to a more equitable world).

Teaching details

Learning material including videos, notes and narrated lectures will be made available to the students support by online and, where possible, face to face interactions for problem solving activities.

Assessment Details

Single summative examination assessing all learning outcomes.

Reading and References

  • E Boeker & R Van Grondelle, Environmental Physics., J Wiley & Son, ISBN:0471 997803, 1999
  • G Boyle, Energy Systems & Sustainability. Oxford University Press, ISBN10: 0199261792, 2003
  • R Ristinen & J Krausharr, Energy & the Environment. J Wiley & Son ISBN10 0471739898, 2006
  • J Andrews & N Jelley, Energy Science: Principles, Technology and Impacts, Oxford University Press, ISBN:978 0 19 875581 1, 20017
  • J Walker, D Halliday & R Resnick, Fundamentals of Physics., 10th ed, J Wiley & Son, ISBN: 978111823072-5, 2014
    Cohen, H., Saravanamuttoo, H., Rogers, G. & Straznicky, P., Gas Turbine Theory., 6th ed., Pearson Education. ISBN-10: 0132224372. ISBN-13: 9780132224376, 2008
  • Lewis, R.I., Turbomachinery Performance Analysis., Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN-10: 0340631910. ISBN-13: 9781850655756., 1996
  • International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook 2018, ISBN Pdf 978-92-64-30677-6., 2018
  • International Energy Agency (IEA), Global EV Outlook 2019, Scaling up the transition to electric mobility,