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MPhys Physics / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Physics of Energy Sources
|Unit level||Level 1|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Offered by||Department of Physics & Astronomy|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Physics of Energy Sources
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Quantum Physics and Relativity||PHYS10121||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
To understand the physical background and mechanisms associated with power generation and related issues.
This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 21/22 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates
On completion successful students will be able to:
- understand the forms of energy, its production, transport and storage
- understand basic nuclear physics and interactions with matter
- understand the conditions necessary for sustainable chain reactions in fissile material
- understand the design criteria for the control of a nuclear reactor
- understand the principles of nuclear fusion useful in power generation and stellar fusion
- understand physical ideas and issues associated with renewable forms of energy including solar, wind, waves, tidal and geothermal.
1. Introduction – Energy requirements and climate impacts (2 lectures)
The greenhouse effect.
Energy requirements, consumption.
2. Biological forms of energy (2 lectures)
Energy transformation – Power plant.
3. Basic Nuclear Physics (3 lectures)
The atom. Radioactivity and decay laws.
Interaction of radiation with matter.
4. Nuclear Fission (3 lectures)
Principles of nuclear fission.
Chain reaction dynamics.
Reactor types and control.
Current status of nuclear fission as a power source.
5. Nuclear Fusion (3 lectures)
Principle and energetics of nuclear fusion (in stars and on Earth).
Thermonuclear fusion, fuels, ignition and the Lawson criterion.
Magnetic and inertial confinement
Current status of nuclear fusion as a power source.
Stellar fusion, proton-proton chain and CNO cycle.
6. Solar Power (2 lectures)
7. Wind, waves, tides (5 lectures)
Power from fluids. Nature of wind, wind power. Wind turbines. Betz criterion.
Principles of water waves, energy and power. Wave power extraction.
Origin and properties of tides. Tidal stream power and tidal range power.
8. Energy transportation and storage (2 lectures)
9. Review (1 lecture)
Feedback will be available on students’ individual written solutions to examples sheets, which will be marked, and model answers will be issued.
Jaffe, R.L & Taylor, W. The Physics of Energy (Cambridge University Press 2018)
King G. The Physics of Energy Sources
Krane K. S. Introductory Nuclear Physics, (Wiley 1987)
MacKay, D.J.C. Sustainable energy - without the hot air (UIT Cambridge 2009)
Twidell, J. W. & Weir, A. D. Renewable energy resources, (Spon 1986)
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.5|
|Independent study hours|
|Philippa Browning||Unit coordinator|
|Sarah Bridle||Unit coordinator|