General Course Materials
Course overview materials, including syllabus, lecturer information, grading criteria, and external notices and resources.
Introduction to Energy
Introduces the basics of energy, covers finite energy sources like petroleum, looks at how energy and food are related, and examines the scale of current and future energy consumption and what renewable energy options can meet that demand.
Physical Energy Sources
Looks at some of the alternative energy options from the physical sciences domain, including wind energy, photovoltaic and photothermal energy, and nuclear energy. It also covers energy storage and electric vehicles, and energy efficiency and smart grid technologies.
Introduction to Biological Energy Sources
Provides an overview of the different biological energy sources including plants and algae. It explains what biofuels are, how they are produced, and the pros and cons of different biological sources.
Discusses various plant-based fuels including corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and jatropha biodiesel. It will cover the different technologies used, the pros and cons of each source, and current production around the world.
Examines different algae used for biofuel production including cyanobacteria, diatoms, and green algae. It looks at how these organisms are different and why they are used to produce biofuels and bio-products. Additionally, the module covers the different tools and technologies used in research and production including bio-prospecting, genetics, synthetic biology, and metabolic engineering.
Biofuel Production and Downstream Processing
Covers the chemistry of biodiesel, looks at the different thermochemical processes used to convert biomass to fuel, and examines renewable biogas. It also looks at the production process of algae biofuel, how and why nutrient utilization and recycling is important in biofuel production, and the relationship between biofuel and water.
Social Issues, Economics, and Politics
Examines how energy production and use affects the economy, our wellbeing, and our heath. It will also look at how energy impacts the poorest communities, the external costs of traditional energy, and how we can regulate energy and incentivize renewable energy. Additionally, this section identifies what a Life Cyle Assessment is and how it is used with renewable and non-renewable fuels. Lastly, it looks at the United States’ past and present energy policies, and the current state of international policy on climate change.
Looks at the history of research on how carbon dioxide causes climate change, the key points of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reporting, and how climate change is portrayed in the media. Also, it discusses the importance of decreasing Short-lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) to mitigate climate change and some possible solutions to reduce these pollutants produced by the poorest communities. Additionally, this section looks at how climate change has affected California’s water and energy use, and how climate change threatens global food security.
Recordings of live office hours from Dr. Mayfield and other course lecturers.