Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy

Energy Class 2012

Where does energy come from and how do we use it?


This laboratory course covers the technologies by which humans appropriate energy for industrial and societal use, from steam turbines to internal combustion engines to photovoltaics. We discuss where our power comes from in Illinois and the potential power generation from alternative fuel sources. The class will also include a field trips to see our energy infrastructure in person.  

Class Overview

1. Introduction to energy, power, and amounts used around the world

2. Solar Energy I: Testing Photo-voltaic cells

3. Solar Energy II: Measuring power and calculating efficiency of PV cells

4. Wind Energy: building wind turbines with different blade shapes

5. Field trip to Grand Ridge Wind Farm

6. Wind Energy: Testing number and types of wind mill blades

7. Motors and Generators: testing hand crank generator and building paper clip motors

8. Field Trip to University of Chicago Steam Plant

9. Introduction to Engines: Steam and Internal Combustion Engines

10. Dissection of internal combustion engines (weed whackers)

11. Chemical Energy: Bomb Calorimetry and the energy content of a variety of fuels

12. Revisiting the Steam Engine and Class Wrap-up