Guided explorations of cycles modeled with Thermoptim
The Thermoptim simulator allows graphical and intuitive modeling of a very large number of thermodynamic cycles, from the simplest to the most complex. It is used both for training needs and in research laboratories or industrial design offices.
A tool like Thermoptim makes it possible to complete a classic teaching of thermodynamics with a great diversity of educational activities, which can be grouped into two main categories:
discovery and initiation, in particular by exploring predefined models;
model construction, which concern learners seeking to know how to model energy systems by themselves.
In the first case, to reduce the difficulties linked to the use of the software, the learners do not build the models by themselves, but explore and set already built models.
These guided explorations (GE) offer different activities to learners, such as finding values in the simulator's screens, re-setting it to perform sensitivity analyzes, etc. Contextual explanations are given to them gradually.
Two ways of using these GEs are possible, either offline directly on the learner's computer, or online.
In the first case, the scenario is presented in a particular browser capable of emulating Thermoptim, while in the second case, it is a classic browser, the demonstration version of the software package then making it possible to do all the exercises.
By making learners work with these GEs, we ensure that they do not waste time on handling errors that are not of educational interest, which is essential if their work is to be accomplished in the always limited time of a course. The risks of error thus decrease considerably, and, if they occur, learners only have to reset the browser and Thermoptim by reloading the files they have.
Later, if a learner has to build models by himself with Thermoptim, he will do it with much more ease if he has carried out these guided explorations because he will have become familiar with the screens of the software package. He will then find all the necessary explanations on how to build models either in the documentation of the software package or in the online courses offered in this portal.
The educational exploration scenarios with Thermoptim relate to more than thirty guided explorations of existing models, from the basic cycles (steam power plant, gas turbine, refrigeration installation) and their variants up to innovative cycles with low environmental impact.
The first are those which have been developed within the framework of the CTC MOOCs. In May 2020 they were supplemented by seven new guided explorations presenting advanced functionalities of the software package.
Let us clarify two important points:
first of all, the direct emulation of Thermoptim from the browser is only a secondary facility which simplifies the user's life a little, but is absolutely not imperative to follow these guided explorations. Each time an action on the software must be carried out, precise indications on how to operate are given.
second, the Thermoptim browser calls on particular Java libraries, which unfortunately are not available in all systems of operation, so that in Linux and Mac it happens that the browser cannot be used.
As a result, we can derive the same educational benefit from these GEs whether or not we can use the Thermoptim browser. Studying them in a standard browser helps to work as well.
Ultimately, the learner acquires a better command of the software package if he follows the instructions for opening its various windows than if he simply clicks a button.
Download and launch the browser
The different versions of the Thermoptim browser are available from this link, which gives you, for Linux, MacIntosh and Windows, installation instructions.
Online version of the guided explorations
The list of available guided explorations is displayed in the menu at the top left of the browser screen.
This list is also presented in detail on this page of the portal, with a short description for each of them.
If you do not know Thermoptim, start with the first on the list which will give you the essential indications.
Choose the guided exploration you are interested in and follow the instructions given to you.