Course Identification

Energy, Materials and Resource Sustainability

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Prof. David Cahen

Course Schedule and Location

First Semester
Sunday, 09:15 - 11:00, Perlman, Rm 404

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Chemical Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 2.00 points


There may be one or more catching-up assignments that each should take some 2 hours, for those with holes in their background.


For 2nd year M.Sc.students or more advanced ones

Minimum # of students :  6

Participation is limited to pre-registered students that commit to take the course; there is no option for free listeners. Students that want to get more information to decide if they will take the course, can do so before the course registration deadline by sending their questions to me via email.


Basic knowledge / understanding of undergraduate

  • physical chemistry (including simple thermodynamics),
  • undergraduate physics, and
  • biophysical chemistry

is expected. The ability to search databases, including  web-searching, and  do so critically, is important.



Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation


Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)

see below

Evaluation Type

Final assignment

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



The aim of this course is to teach physical, chemical and some bio aspects of Energy and Sustainability with emphasis on state-of-the-art and future perspectives for approaches to sustainable energy conversion and storage (including fuel) options and their dependence on other resources. Topics will touch also on the main resource uses/needs , resource sustainability aspects and  relevance for climate change.
There will be up to ~ 20 hr of frontal lectures, where possible interspersed with discussion or flipped classroom sessions to bring the students to a level of knowledge and readiness to attack, each, or in pairs, a topic with defined question/problem to be decided on after deliberations between all.  Those topics will then be explored and the results summarized for final presentations AND group discussion.

Learning Outcomes

Ability to

arrive at your own understanding of how to separate the chaff from the wheat in Energy and Sustainability(E&S) issues;

verify/ assess critically and independently, statements, based on science and engineering, made in daily life, concerning E&S, using order of magnitude estimates and logic, such as reductio ad absurdum :

Reading List

Energy, Survival Guide / Jo Hermans  - 1 hard copy available via the library

The Simple Physics of Energy Use,  /  Peter Rez -available in  electronic format,  via the library

Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options / Tester - -available in  electronic format,  via the library

Fundamentals of Materials For Energy and Environmental Sustainability / Cahen-Ginley -available in  electronic format, as well as 1 hard copy, via the library

Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air / David JC McKay - available in  electronic format  on the web, as well as 1 hard copy via the library

Critical Materials  /  Alex King -  available in  electronic format,  via the library