EME 504
Foundations in Sustainability Systems


In this module, we will introduce the thermodynamics conceptual framework as relevant for analysis of energy and material flows in production systems.


Note that in this module, we are not attempting to present a rigorous treatment of thermodynamics. We limit ourselves to a qualitative treatment of the principles essential to understand subsequent sections.

Depending on your background, you may be able to skip most of the reading on this assignment, or you may need some additional time to understand these concepts. Keep that in mind when you are planning your week!

Learning Objectives

  1. Use thermodynamics concepts such as conservation of energy to predict the flow of energy within a system.
  2. Use thermodynamics concepts such as mass balance to predict the flow of matter within a system.
  3. Qualitatively extrapolate schematic analysis of systems to predict trends in industrial energy flow.
  4. Use the concepts of conservation of energy and irreversible processes to create input-output models and to evaluate the efficiency of systems.

What is due for Module 3?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Course Syllabus for specific time frames and due dates. 

Module 3: Assignments
Requirements Assignment Details
To Do
  • Familiarize yourself with all the Module 3 Readings and assignments.
Read Registered students may access these articles via Canvas/the Penn State Library:
  • Abraham. 2006. Sustainability Science and Engineering, Volume 1: Defining Principles. Chapter 5: Systems Thinking. pp. 91-112
  • Duflou, et al. 2012. "Towards energy and resource efficient manufacturing: A processes and systems approach." CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology. v.61(2). pp. 587–609.
  • See Module 3 in Canvas for full assignment details


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion (not email), located in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.