10.023 Designing Energy Systems (Elective)

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Course Description

This course teaches physical and design concepts in energy related products and systems, such as lighting, mobile phones, and photovoltaic systems. Students will apply reverse engineering, redesigning, data analysis, modelling and simulations to these systems. In this course, students will be required to synthesize innovative solutions to real world problems.

Delivery Format


Learning Objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Use physical laws and quantitative analysis to evaluate limitations and performance of heat management and energy transformation systems
  2. Execute experimentation, reverse engineering, redesigning, and data analysis on energy-related products and energy systems
  3. Modify and design energy-related products and photovoltaics systems using design principles, simulations and data-driven approaches


Coursework Percentage (%)
Midterm 1 20
Midterm 2 20
Problem Sets 10
Hands on Activities (3) 15
In-class participation 5
Design Project (Designette: 1D and 2D) 30
Total 100

*The first number represents the number of hours per week assigned for lectures, recitations and cohort classroom study. The second number represents the number of hours per week assigned for labs, design, or field work. The third number represents the number of hours per week assigned for independent study.

Weekly Topics

Week Topics/ Activity/Project
1 Topic: Energy in Design – general overall energy equation and Heat Transfer
Introduction on how heat transfer affects form and functionality of devices.
Energy system in device (closed system)
2 Topic: Energy – general overall energy equation and Heat Transfer
Energy system in device (open system)

Activity: HOA 1 – Reverse Engineering/deconstruction of thermal analysis of subsystems (e.g. heat sink) in LED/Laptop/ Nespresso machine/mobile phone
Measure power consumption of wireless mouse (transient) etc. And LED (steady state)
Introduce 1D: Reverse engineering of a small device to improve energy or design aspect

3 Topic:  Reintroduce entropy

Activity: HOA 2 – Building of device to analyze open system (energy and entropy) and data collected will be used for exergy

4 Topic: Introduction to concepts of exergy

Activity: LED example

5 Topic: Analysis using exergy to optimize energy utilization of a system

Activity: 1D in-class

6 Topic: Energy Storage – Different types of batteries and non-batteries storage (e.g. supercapacitor, fossil fuel, hydrogen), and their unique applications

Activity: 1 hour guest lecture on state of the art of battery and 1 hour review
Mid-term 1 Friday on week 1 – 5

7 Recess
8 Topic: Energy Storage – focusing on power density, energy density, lifespan, charging and discharging cycle, charging time and safety, product life cycle

Activity: I-V characteristics of lead battery and solar cell

9 Topic: Principles of photovoltaics systems

Activity: Solar cell simulation

10 Topic: Applications of photovoltaics systems

Activity: HOA 3 – FACT trip analysis; PV system simulation

11 Topic: Guest lecture on energy systems (large vs nano scale)

Activity: 1D due, 2D introduction

12 1D presentation and 2D discussion
Mid-term 2 Friday on week 6 – 11
13 2D discussion and 2D due
14 Final Project wrap-up: Feedback on projects

Prior to AY2020, it was 10.008 Engineering in the Physical World