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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


MECHM020 New and Renewable Engineering Systems

To achieve competency in using analytical methods for understanding the design and behaviour of new and renewable energy systems – design, operational and integration issues. To provide technical knowledge in renewable technologies so as to appreciate the design features for different systems on land and at sea.

Students having successfully completed the course will have the ability to:

  • Appreciate the range of renewable and alternative power systems and understand why different designs are used in different power applications and appreciate their technical limits.
  • Analyse renewable power systems so as to calculate and relate key parameters such as fluid flow, torque, speed, efficiency, and power under steady-state conditions, etc.
  • Understand the ‘state of the art’ in renewable power systems and appreciate advances in new technologies that will influence future designs.
Code MECHM020
Alt. Code(s) MECHG020
Title New and Renewable Engineering Systems
Level M
UCL Credits/ECTs 0.5/7.5
Start September
End March
Taught by Professor Richard Bucknall (Module Coordinator)
Dr Chris Nightingale


Mathematics to second year undergraduate level to include complex number theory, ordinary differential equations linear, non-linear 1st order and linear 2nd order homogenous with constant coefficients. Applied scientific or engineering undergraduate academic background.

Method of Instruction

Levelling (2 hrs); Classroom lectures (24 hrs); Classroom tutorials (6 hrs); Revision (2 hrs).


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Written Examination (2 hours, 65%) to be sat in March.
  • 2 piece of coursework (10 hours 35%) TBA

The examination rubric is:

Answer THREE questions (from eight offered) in 2 hours.

The coursework rubic:

Assignment 1 is ‘Show how a chosen country could move to 50% renewables by 2030’ counting for 33.3% of available marks and Assignment 2 is ‘Feasibility study of Wind Farm/Solar Farm/Tidal Scheme/Wave Harvesting’ for 66.7%. In each assignment students need to collect data and use analytical methods to determine a viable solution.

Tutorial sheets: There will be six tutorial sheets handed at regular intervals during the lecture course. Each sheet will contain a number of problems based on recent lecture material. Time will be taken during some lecture/tutorial periods to work through a few of the problems, leaving students to tackle the remainder in their own time. There will be additional tutorials schedules for approximately two weeks before the examination (timing to be agreed).

Additional tutorials: Students lacking a background in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics may benefit from additional tutorials. These will be possible and the need, or otherwise, will be discussed as the course develops.

Recommended Reading

Laboratory fuel cell and various computer based simulation packages.

MECHM020 New and Renewable Engineering Systems


Hydrogen as a fuel: production methods, storage techniques and methods of distribution. Combustion characteristics when used in conventional power plant. Safety issues.

Fuel cells: Thermodynamic principles, analysis, types of fuel cell and their applications, operating characteristics.

Renewable energy sources: hydroelectric, wind, wave, tidal, ocean current, OTEC, geothermal and solar. In each case, the following topics are covered: potential and limitations, performance analysis, practical methods of exploitation and integation into electrical generation networks.

Energy Storage Systems: electro-chemical batteries — high and low temperature types, flywheel storage systems, regenerative fuel cells, superconducting capacitors and inductors

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