Bioenergy Option - Are You Ready?

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Bioenergy Option/Bioenergy Certificate Readiness Assessment

The Bioenergy Option is designed to generate technical understanding in bioenergy, along with project development skills.  This mix of theoretical understanding and practical savvy makes the iMPS-RESS Bioenergy Option graduates very capable for a variety of opportunities within the industry. 

This is a multidisciplinary field, including aspects of chemistry, biology, physics, economics, business, engineering, and other disciplines.  As such, it is difficult to have a perfect background to study bioenergy.  However, it is good to have a basic proficiency in some basic areas if you plan to study bioenergy as part of the RESS program, whether you are pursuing the four bioenergy courses as a graduate certificate, or using them as your option within the full master’s program. 

What are the skills that will help me be successful studying bioenergy within the RESS program?

  • Familiarity with Chemistry
    In order to analyze bioenergy processes, you will need to be able to analyze chemical equations, including those that involve microbiological processes.  A background in chemistry, including organic chemistry, is very valuable.  It is best to have completed at least one college-level course in chemistry before registering for RESS bioenergy courses.  
  • Familiarity with Thermodynamics
    Both chemical thermodynamics and gas cycle thermodynamics are a very useful tool for analyzing bioenergy systems.  This includes concepts such as Gibbs Free Energy, Chemical Equilibrium, Thermodynamic Efficiency, and heat engines such as the Carnot Cycle and the Otto Cycle.  If these seem a bit hazy to you, it would be good to do a little brushing up before you begin your program. 
  • A General Understanding of Plants
    Since plants are the primary feedstocks for bioenergy, it is necessary to have a general understanding of them – how they grow, and the conditions required for them to grow.  A practical knowledge of agricultural and forestry operations is also a big plus. 
  • Ability to use Spreadsheets, Word Processors, and Presentation Software
    These standard software tools are absolutely necessary for you to complete assignments and carry out analyses in the bioenergy courses. 

If you have a reasonable grip on the above topics, you should be in good shape to study bioenergy in the RESS program. The following list provides an example of the types of tasks that, in addition to the skills gained from a bachelor’s degree and some experience with bioenergy, will put you in a good position to succeed as a student. 

  1. Balance a chemical equation, and determine the mass of each reactant and product. 
  2. Understand and describe the concept of chemical equilibrium
  3. Be able to explain the first two laws of thermodynamics
  4. Describe how an internal combustion engine transforms the fuel’s chemical energy into kinetic energy.  
  5. Describe how a steam turbine transforms fuel energy into kinetic energy. 
  6. Sketch out the molecular form of major types of organic compounds. 
  7. Be able to write a report using a word processor, including a title page, table of contents, numbered headings and a bibliography. 
  8. Be able to enter a series of equations into a spreadsheet in such a way that you are able to calculate meaningful results. 
  9. Explain how sunlight, water, air, and soil are involved in helping a plant grow. 
  10. Describe the difference between a woody and a herbaceous plant.