Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering


Like many engineering systems the design of energy conversion systems has not explicitly incorporated optimization procedures, even though the capital and operational costs of such systems, excluding distribution and storage costs, contribute to about 80% of the total costs. The "optimization" of system performance has been almost entirely by historical evolution--based largely on the experience and intuition of the designer or the design team, employing trial-and-error (cut-and-try) methods which often have no substantial criteria for judging whether a particular design is optimal. This traditional method also suffers because virtually every system is unique, designed to serve specific ends which are different from those to be met by any other system. Therefore, experience accumulated in designing one system--or many systems--can even be misleading when applied to a new design.