The Laws of the Universe. Once you know entropy, it’s irreversible.
Thermodynamics is a process. One of applying balances, fluid models, and software for solution and optimization. This process is shown by the following tree diagram, which encompasses all but the efficiency comparisons of ME 301.
Below I’ve posted all of my lecture notes, which borrow from my mentors Steve Penoncello (University of Idaho), John Pfotenhauer, Sanford Klein, and particularly Greg Nellis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These notes are intentionally old-school and hand written for a reason. Recent studies have shown that students retain information and perform better on exams when forced to write notes in their own personal narrative. The real magic though happens outside of class in real homework problems, often inspired by my experiences, and qualitative discussion prompts based on questions posed by students over the years. Students never forget some of the in-class demonstrations.
The combination of these methods has been successful. Student retention is now over 85%. Performance on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam thermodynamics questions is 20% better than the national average. My course evaluations exceed 4.8/5.
Energy is never created or destroyed so the first law of thermodynamics is simply a balance between energy forms. In this first part of class students learn to convert between energy forms — thermal, potential, kinetic, mechanical, heat, and work. Along the way we learn the basic property models for fluids — real, ideal, incompressible. We also learn the most basic form of efficiency as what you want divided by what you paid to get it.
Lesson 7: Demonstrations of Closed System Balances
Lesson 10: Demonstrations of Open, Un-steady Systems
Lesson 13: In-class demonstrations and review
In the world of thermodynamics you never get back everything you put in because of entropy. In this second part of class students learn to balance entropy, which determines the direction and efficiency limits of processes.
Lesson 22: Isentropic Efficiencies Part 3
Lesson 24: Exergy Analysis of Closed Systems
Lesson 26: Inventing Absolute Temperature Scales
Lesson 26: Entropy and Design
In this final third of class we apply the thermodynamic laws to size and design thermodynamic systems, specifically power and refrigeration cycles. We often find that the limitations are actually not due to the thermodynamic laws so much as practical design limitations. This presents many opportunities for innovation.
Lessons 41-42: Course review and evaluation