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Unit information: Environmental Thermalhydraulics in 2015/16

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Unit name Environmental Thermalhydraulics
Unit code MENGM5031
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Joe Quarini
Open unit status Not open

MENG11202 MENG20600 or equivalent



School/department Department of Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This option shows how fluid flow heat and mass transfer determine our climatic environment. The course then studies some of the thermalhydraulic environmental issues faced by industrial man. Specifically, it looks at stratification in air, rivers and oceans, freezing in the environment (lakes) and within man-made structures. It studies renewable power generation (coppicing, wind, wave and solar). The course also addresses some of the thermalhydraulic safety issues faced in industry. These include: gas and dust explosions, fires in large engineered structures, such as warehouses and transport tunnels, release of toxic gases and liquids and their subsequent dispersion. The overall aim of this course is to provide the modern engineer with a basic and sound understanding of the thermalhydraulic influences and impacts mankind has on the environment.


The objective of this course is to provide a rigorous structure enabling the student to assess the impact of thermalhydraulic phenomena on the environment. The course focuses on a number of specific thermalhydraulic environmental issues, including; climate change and weather, stratification in air and water, and freezing in lakes and man-made structures. Further, it is designed to enable the student to adapt and use the thermofluids ‘knowledge-tool-kit’ gained over the past three years to study the thermalhydraulic issues associated with the environment.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, the students will be able to estimate/compute/predict the:

  • Lapse rates (temperature gradients) in the atmosphere and characterise weather conditions from simple thermalhydraulic principles.
  • Freezing/thawing rates for environmental and man-made systems.
  • Effects of radiative heat transfer in the environment (greenhouse effects) and in industrial and domestic structures.
  • Dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere and the distribution of dissolved oxygen in rivers.

Teaching details

Student receives 2 x 1-hour (50 minutes) lectures each week for approximately 12 weeks. Within this period they are expected to consolidate and enhance the lecture material with approximately 36 hours of private study. Students will be invited to form small (3 to 5 students) groups and undertake specific in-depth studies in environmental topics. Each student is expected to spend 20 to 25 hours of focused study on the allocated topic. Each group will produce a formal report of the study. The study will generally be a ‘paper’ study and unlikely to include experimental work.

Bound lecture notes are provided at the start of the course. These notes are divided into sections reflecting the structure of the course in general and the chronology of the lectures. Each section gives some background, detail and limited worked examples to enable the student to enhance his personal learning experience both in the lecture room and outside it. Further printed notes (questions followed by selected worked solutions) will be given out at appropriate points of the course. Where appropriate examples and ‘demonstrator experiments’ will be used in the lectures to highlight the important physics underlying the thermalhydraulic processes. Overhead projectors, computer presentations and videos will be used as part of the delivery vehicles.

Assessment Details

80% 2 hour examination, 3 Questions from 4, with question 1 compulsory; plus 20% coursework (specified above)

Reading and References

  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering, 3rd edition, M. Davis, D. Cornwell, N. Aquilano & R. Chase, (McGraw Hill), 1998
  • Dynamic Meteorology – A basic course, A. Gordon, W. Grace, P. Schwerdtfeger & R. Byron- Scott, (Arnold), 1998
  • Environmental Engineering, G. Kiely, (McGraw-Hill) 1998
  • Environmental Physics, 2nd edition, E. Boeker, R. Van Grondelle (Wiley) 1999
  • Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer, 5th edition, F. Incropera & D. DeWitt (Wiley), 2002
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering & Science, 2nd edition, G.M. Masters, (Pearson H.E.) 1998