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The University of Southampton

SESM2017 Thermodynamics

Module Overview

Enables students to analyse and design advanced power, propulsion, heating and cooling systems using thermodynamic principles.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Enable students to analyse and design advanced power, propulsion, heating, and cooling systems using thermodynamic principles.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Theoretical and practical constraints on the performance of internal combustion engines, gasturbines, steam and vapour cycles, and combined cycles
  • Mechanisms of heat transfer in engineering systems.
  • Fundamentals of combustion
  • Current technologies for improving the performance of auto- and aero-engines, power generation, and refrigeration plant.
  • Thermodynamic properties of real fluids – including liquid-vapour systems, mixtures, and nonideal gases – and their use in engineering calculations.
  • Environmental and economic factors driving energy technology.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Compute changes in thermodynamic properties due to: mixing, throttling, compression, expansion, heat exchange, and combustion.
  • Determine operating conditions for thermodynamic cycles in order to optimise power or efficiency
  • Design machines for improved efficiency using thermodynamic reasoning.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse experimental data and summarise findings.
  • Use a computer to perform parametric design studies.
  • Devise appropriate plots for analysis, communication, and justification of design decisions.
  • Communicate in a clear, structured and efficient manner.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Undertake experimental evaluation of thermal plant and energy systems.
  • Evaluate fluid properties manually and computationally, by using the equation-of-state, property tables, or charts.


• Introduction to applications of thermodynamics, and environmental and socio-economic factors (1 lecture, and background material throughout the course). • Thermodynamic properties and processes: Thermodynamic properties and non-ideal fluids; analysis of real thermodynamic processes (compressors and turbines, throttles, nozzles, co/counterflow heat exchangers, property change due to combustion); description of heat transfer mechanisms; description of combustion mechanisms; chemical equilibrium (12 lectures). • Internal combustion engine applications: Operating principles and performance parameters thermodynamic analysis of ideal and real cycles (including availability analysis); Improving performance, and current directions in engine technology (5 lectures). • Gas turbine applications: Analysis of real gas turbines – Adaptations for power generation (intercooling, reheat, recuperation, blade cooling); gas turbines for aero-propulsion (incl. propulsive efficiency and bypass) (5 lectures). • Vapour cycles: Properties of condensable fluids, use of tables, charts and equation of state; Carnot and Rankine power cycles; Effects of steam temperature and pressure, reheat, regenerative feedwater heating, and boiler efficiency (4 lectures). • Boilers and combined cycles: Steam generation in bio-mass and coal-fired power plant; combined-cycles – heat recovery steam generators and consideration of the pinch-point (3 lectures). • Refrigeration and Psychrometry: Refrigerants and refrigeration applications; Mixtures of air and water; Applications to air conditioning (3 lectures). • Revision (3)

Special Features

The online tutorials are a novel feature of this course and they involve video/audio without subtitles. Where required, printed solutions to example questions are available as an alternative.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures including examples and demonstration experiments, with lecture hand-outs provided. • Example papers, example classes, and online problem solving tutorials. • Laboratory briefings • Structured power plant analysis activity with demonstrator support. Learning activities include • Individual work on examples. • Laboratory measurements, analysis, and assessment activity. • Power plant analysis activity: background reading, computational analysis, and assessment activity.

Wider reading or practice55
Completion of assessment task25
Supervised time in studio/workshop8
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Heywood, J.B. (1988). Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals. 

Horlock, J.H. (1992). Combined Power Plant: including combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants. 

Cengel, Y.A., Boles, M.A. (2011). Thermodynamics: an Engineering Approach. 

Haywood, R.W (1980). Analysis of Engineering Cycles – Power, Refrigeration and Gas Liquefaction. 

Turns, S.R. (1996). An introduction to combustion: concepts and applications. 

Software requirements. The Power Plant Analysis Project makes use of Matlab software (available on University work stations) and additional power plant analysis software provided via blackboard

Cumptsy, N. (2003). Jet propulsion. 

Rogers, G. F. C., Mayhew, Y.R (1995). Thermodynamic and transport properties of fluids: SI units. 

Stone, R (1999). Introduction to Internal Combustion Engines. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 70%
Laboratory 5%
Lab Report 10%
Report 5%
Report 5%
Report 5%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: FEEG1003

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