Energy Conversion Fundamentals Option
Environmental engineers can help determine the most sustainable energy options using systems and life cycle analysis (LCA). This allows a comparison of energy use and environmental impacts over the entire life cycle of the system, such as from extraction of oil through refining, transport, and end use. This analysis is needed to determine which energy sources are the most compatible with the environment and are sustainable for the planet.
Environmental engineers can also turn traditional "waste" products into energy. For example, anaerobic digesters can be used to produce methane (aka natural gas) or hydrogen from municipal wastewater,various organics-laden industrial wastewaters, and animal manure. Environmental engineers can design waste-to-energy incinerators to extract the energy content from municipal solid waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Plastics, tires, etc. have an energy content similar to coal! Environmental engineers can also design systems to extract methane from solid waste landfills. Environmental engineers are also exploring biofuels and other options.
Using currently available technology to biochemically produce ethanol per the DOE target in 2025 will require vast amounts of water. The new "in situ" oil extraction from oil shale that is being developed requires both an ice wall to prevent contaminating surrounding groundwater and it is extimated that it would take three barrels of water to produce one barrel of shale oil.
Therefore, environmental engineers will be needed to treat available water supplies for use (and hopefully reuse) in the energy sector. Finally, traditional environmental engineering projects consume energy. In particular, drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment and transmission are estimated to consume about 4% of all electricity in the US. In addition, electricity accounts for about 80% of municipal water treatment and distribution costs. Therefore, energy efficiency in water and wastewater treatment must be considered. As population continues to grow and stress currently used water resources, lower quality water supplies must be used. Desalination technology can turn seawater into drinking water, but this requires about 20 to 50 times more energy than using a high quality water supply (such as "mining" the groundwater).
Therefore, environmental engineers will need to create more energy efficient ways of water and wastewater treatment. Information on jobs in this area can be found at the company links below.
Required for this option
- ECEN 3010(S)/MCEN 3017(F) Circuits and Electronics (3 credits, prerequisites: APPM 2360, PHYS 1140)
- MCEN 3032 Thermodynamics 2 (3 credits, F&S, prerequisites: MCEN 3012, MCEN 3021 or equivalents)
One course from among the following:
- CHEN 4838 Energy Fundamentals (3 credits, S, prerequisite: thermodynamics)
- AREN 5020 Building Energy Audits (3 credits, I, prerequisite: AREN 3010 or equivalent, instructor permission required)
- AREN 5050 Advanced Solar Design (3 credits, I, AREN 2120 or equivalent, instructor permission required)
- MCEN 4228 Sustainable Energy (3 credits, F, prerequisite: thermodynamics)
- CVEN 5834 Bioenergy and Bioresources Recovery (3 credits, F, desired prerequisite: CVEN 4484, instructor permission required)
Undergraduate Energy CERTIFICATE
You may want to consider applying to participate in the campus-wide certificate program. For more information see the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute website.
Electrical Renewable Energy Systems MINOR
You may want to consider earning a minor in Electrical Renewable Energy Systems. This requires 18 credits, many of which will count as option courses and technical electives. For more information, see the ERES Minor website
With careful planning, all of the minor course credits can apply to both the EVEN degree and the minor. GPA restrictions apply.
Special Scholarship Opportunity: The ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars Program
For students interested in pursuing careers in a energy-related field (including renewable/sustainable energy), the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars Program offers a unique opportunity.
The University of Colorado at Boulder is one of just 9 universities in the country that participates in the program.
- $5000/year scholarship for your academic career (BS/MS students included)
- participation in a mentoring program
- enrichment activities (about 4-6 activities per year)
- advantage when applying for ConocoPhillips internships
Companies that Work on Projects Related to Energy:
- CH2M Hill
- Trident Energy Services
- Tetra Tech, consultants
- Montgomery, Watson, Harza, consultants
- Earthtech Energy, Inc.
- Energy Alternatives LTD, Canada
- Coal predominant energy source in Georgia, report from NewsHour, May 19,2009
- Clean Coal debate, report from NewsHour, April 21, 2009
- Fusion Energy: progress toward; report from NewsHour, March 17, 2009
- Green Energy Limitations, a report from NewsHour, February 17,2009
- Solar Energy industry during recession, a report from NewsHour April 14, 2009
- Wind Farms Expand, a report from NewsHour, January 30, 2009
- Energy Initiative at the University of Colorado
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Air and Waste Management Association
- SEI Solar Energy International
- Water consumption to make electricity
- Water use for ethanol production, Aden, NREL
- Water use for US Power Production, NREL, 2003
- Curriculum Table
- EVEN Options
- FE Exam
- Graduation Requirements
- 5-year BS/MS
- Study Abroad
- Policy and Procedures
- Society of EVEN
- Undergraduate Research