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Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics (MCEN30018)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2017
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeMCEN30018
Semester 1
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


This course is an introduction to basic principles of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. These two subjects are introduced together in a single course, reflecting the large degree of cross-over in applications and basic first principles between the two subjects.

Fluid mechanics is a very important core subject, influencing a diverse range of engineering systems (aircraft, ships, road vehicle design, air conditioning, energy conversion, wind turbines, hydroelectric schemes to name but a few) and also impacts on many biological (blood flow, bird flight etc) and even meteorological studies. As engineers, we are typically concerned with predicting the force required to move a body through a fluid, or the power required to pump fluid through a system. However, before we can achieve this goal, we must start from fundamental principles governing fluid flow.

Thermodynamics could be defined as the science of energy. This subject can be broadly interpreted to include all aspects of energy and energy transformations. Like fluid mechanics, this is a hugely important subject in engineering, underpinning many key engineering systems including power generation, engines, gas turbines, refrigeration, heating etc. This unit again starts from first principles to introduce the basic concepts of thermodynamics, paving the way for later more advanced units

This course aims to develop a fundamental understanding of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics, based on first principles and physical arguments. Real world engineering examples will be used to illustrate and develop an intuitive understanding of these subjects.


Topics include:

Fluid Mechanics - fluid statics, static forces on submerged structures, stability of floating bodies; solid body motion; fluid dynamics; streamlines; pathlines and streaklines; conservation of mass, momentum and energy; Euler's equation and Bernoulli's equation; control volume analysis; dimensional analysis; incompressible flow in pipes and ducts; boundary layers; flow around immersed bodies; and drag and lift.

Thermodynamics - heat and work, ideal non-flow and flow processes; laws of thermodynamics; Carnot's principle; Clausius inequality; direct and reversed heat engines; thermal efficiencies; properties of pure substances; change of phase; representation of properties; steam and air tables; and vapour equation of state, ideal gases.

Learning outcomes


Having completed this unit the student is expected to -

  1. Have developed an intuitive fundamental understanding of thermo-fluid systems
  2. Be able to determine the thermodynamic and physical properties of numerous substances
  3. Apply the first and second laws of thermodynamics to several engineering devices
  4. Apply control volume analysis to numerous fluid mechanical systems
  5. Appreciate the elegance of dimensional analysis
  6. Be able to analyse simple, incompressible and inviscid fluid flows, such as pipe and pump flow systems
  7. Appreciate basic tenets of external flows, including lift, drag & separated flows.

Generic skills

On completion of this subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Ability to apply knowledge of science and engineering fundamentals
  • Ability to undertake problem identification, formulation, and solution
  • Ability to utilise a systems approach to complex problems and to design and operational performance
  • Ability to function effectively as an individual and in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams, as a team leader or manager as well as an effective team member.

Last updated: 29 April 2017