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Guidance on choice of a thesis topic in Renewable Energy for an undergraduate

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1
    I'm presently pursuing my undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering, and I need help in choosing a thesis topic in Renewable Energy(as that is what I want to pursue my future in).

    My university is not equipped with state of the art labs, though they manage to meet the requirements of having the most basic ones.

    This being said I plan to publish a paper too, can I can submit one without having to conduct complex experiments. Do I need to find something substantial to publish a paper?

    Its a choice between Solar, Wind and Hydroelectric(Run-of-the-river).
     
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  3. Jul 12, 2012 #2

    Mech_Engineer

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    You might consider geothermal also, that's a natural energy source with a lot of underdeveloped potential IMO.
     
  4. Jul 12, 2012 #3
    I totally agree. I just got back from a trip to Iceland... the whole place is running on geothermal or hydro... so cool.
     
  5. Jul 12, 2012 #4
    Third-ed, geothermal has great potential (in many areas) but the research and experience required to make it a viable source for large scale supply just isn't there yet. But as far as I know, those places that are using it are very happy with it.
     
  6. Jul 12, 2012 #5
    Also, we don't have to think of renewable energy as a solution to a huge powergrid project. It could be something small and innovative.

    One company I discovered in Iceland was Saltverk Reykjanes, they take salt from the fjord and use geothermal energy to boil the water off. The company was started by 3 recent college graduates, 2 engineers and 1 economist.
    http://www.dv.is/frettir/2012/4/24/saltguru-odur-i-islenskt-salt/
    http://saltverk.tumblr.com/

    Check it out. I think it is super clever.
     
  7. Jul 16, 2012 #6
    what are your interests?
    what field(s) do you want to work in after graduation?

    what recent advances have there been in that field? (google scholar, and doaj.org are very useful. Your school's library probably also has access to non-free journals.

    of these advances, which would you like to extrapolate on?

    What is your dream-widget (the invention/development that you want to give the world before you die)? Can you take steps towards that?

    What phenomena/development do you know very well (can you explain something inside and out to a non-technical person?)


    hope this helped. good luck!

    edit: it's not quite renewable, but texas is getting a compressed air power plant
    http://www.examiner.com/article/houston-company-building-compressed-air-energy-storage-plant

    it's very recent news, so maybe worth looking in to
     
  8. Jul 17, 2012 #7
    From a practical perspective, it may be easiest if you speak to a few of your lecturers and see if they will help you think of something - this is also good as they will be 'bought in' to the idea, and might agree to supervise it. My clear advice is to make sure the project lets you achieve maximum marks, through a good experiment, or through analysis and theory, or both. I would advise to save the specialist in-depth project for your next phase of education (PhD or whatever).

    It is not important for your undergraduate project how well-equipped your labs are - if you go on to do Masters/PhD, then choose the appropriate university, or similarly if you go and work for a company. I think you may be being ambitious looking for a paper from your undergrad project, before you have found the topic. Undergrad projects are normally quite limited, so I would be satisfied to do well in it, and if you get more, then great.

    My advice for the topic is not to try and solve a massive global technology issue - there is lots of work themed towards renewables that is the same technology as used elsewhere, but where renewables is creating a new avenue for research. For example, marine turbines, wind turbines etc are driving new technologies in electrical power devices and control - basically electrical generation equipment but themed towards renewables. These cases also have lots of fluids challenges of course, and I would expect there are mechanical design/analysis issues as well. The same for geothermal etc.
     
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