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ABE 884 Syllabus

ABE 884: Biomass Energy Systems (3). In the coming decades biomass will play an increasing role in satisfying society’s energy and material needs, providing a renewable alternative to fossil fuels. This course will cover the fundamental theories and applied technologies used in production and conversion of biomass into transportation fuels, heat, power, electricity, chemicals and other value-added products. Prerequisites: None. However, students should have a background in introductory chemistry, thermodynamics, and/or core technical courses in iMPS RESS program. Students unsure of their readiness for ABE 884 should contact the instructor.

 

Instructor

Irene Dzidor Darku

Dzidzor Essien, Ph.D.

iMPS-RESS Graduate Teaching Faculty
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University
Email: idd103@psu.edu

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:00PM EST

Questions emailed before 2:30 will be answered by 4:00PM during office hours. You can, however, email me at any time you need my assistance with course related issues and I will do my best to respond within 48 hrs.

 

Course Description

This course will cover the fundamental theories and applied technologies used in production and conversion of biomass into transportation fuels, heat, power, electricity, chemicals and other value-added products. Production strategies focus on sustainable cropping systems, harvest, storage, and pretreatment for diverse biomass feedstocks.

Conversion technologies covered include ethanol fermentation, biodiesel catalysis, combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, and anaerobic digestion. System analysis will address environmental impacts, policy, and economics.

 

Instructional Objectives

  1. Develop a fundamental understanding of the biology, chemistry, and thermodynamic basis of biomass energy systems.
  2. Understand the production technologies required for herbaceous and woody energy crops as well as agricultural and forest byproducts.
  3. Develop detailed knowledge of the technologies, benefits, and tradeoffs of various thermochemical and biological energy conversion strategies.
  4. Assess the environmental impacts and understand the policy and economic context of biomass energy systems.
  5. Locate and utilize appropriate theory and information for design and analysis of biomass energy systems.

 

Course Goals

  1. Demonstrate self-initiation and motivational attributes in seeking and applying knowledge and information in a way that aids individual learning style/progress
  2. Develop a productive and healthy peer-peer relationship; engage in meaningful discussions with colleagues, showing respect for colleagues and their opinions
  3. Create networking opportunities that can be beneficial in future
  4. Disciplined and ethical conduct in approach to assignments and project accomplishment
  5. Be informed on current happenings in the bioenergy industry

 

Evaluation and Grading

Students in this course will be required to participate in several activities designed to help develop their knowledge, understanding, and ability to apply the principles of innovative biomass energy systems. Evaluation of each student’s mastery of the subject matter and ability to communicate their understanding will be based on performance in the classroom, written problem sets and reports, exams, and a design project.

Several assessment methods will be used to evaluate student performance. Numerical grades will be assigned in each of the categories described below, and then those grades will be weighted by the percentages and summed for a final grade.

Assessment Methods

AssessmentTotal Points% of Grade

Quizzes

60

(12 @ 5 pts. each)

15%

Case Studies

28

(2 @ 7 pts. each)

7%

Lab Report

 

40

(1 @ 40 pts)

10%

Homework Assignments

 

80

(6 @ 10-15 pts. each)

20%

Graded Discussions

 

32

(2 @ 16 pts. each)

8%

Participation

 

60

(60 pts. possible)

15%

Final Design Project

(including oral presentation)

 

100

(1 @ 100 pts.)

25%
TOTAL 400 100%

 

Grading Scale

Letter GradeMinimum Points RequiredPercentage
A 360 90-100%
B 320 80-89%
C 280 70-79%
D 240 60-69%
F <240 <60%

 

Policy for Completion of Course Requirements

These learning opportunities are in addition to opportunities provided through class lectures, videos, required and recommended readings.

Weekly Discussions

The weekly discussion (Peer-to-peer learning and support network) and biweekly bioenergy news are learning opportunities created in addition to opportunities provided through class lectures, videos, required and recommended readings.

There are a number of suggested bioenergy news sites on the Activity pages in each module. You are not obligated to use any of these sites. The weekly news can cover any area of interest to you: policy/legislation, sustainability, economics, debates, opinions, new technologies, awards, etc. You do not have to restrict yourself to the news of the week; you can discuss/comment on other recent news items within the year that you find interesting

What does Peer-to-peer learning and support network mean?

The discussion forum is a forum for you to comment on each week's module and actively engage in discussion with your peers in the course. If you have any material, a link or even an experience that you deem appropriate, you can share it here, you can also ask questions and discuss sections of the lessons that may not be too clear or that you are having trouble with.

The Peer-to-peer learning and support network will be beneficial only if you all actively participate in the discussions.

Homework Assignments

Homework and reports are due before 11:59 PM EST on the date indicated on the Syllabus page. Do not wait until the last minute to submit your work, as there are sometimes technical difficulties that will slow down your submission process. Late work will not be accepted after one week from the due date (as assigned). All assigned activities will be penalized 15% for each day (or fraction thereof) late.

Quizzes

Quizzes will be conducted through CANVAS and can be taken any day of the week. However, apart from Module 1 quiz, all other quiz sessions are timed. The time for each quiz will be indicated on each quiz. The last quiz for the semester is optional and can be taken for extra credit.

Late quizzes will be accepted ONLY IF valid justification is provided and I am notified prior to the date and time of the quiz. Valid justification is a statement indicating illness, obituary notice (death in family or loved one) etc.

Design Project

You can start working on your final project about half way through the course. Details on developing project topics, selection of topics, group assignments, expectations, specific evaluation criteria can be found in the Design Project Module at the end of all Modules.

Oral [video-conferencing] presentations of final projects will usually be done in the final week of class. We can consider weekend presentations as well if that works better for some students.

 

Required Material

Textbook:

  • *Biorenewable Resources: Engineering New Products from Agriculture, 2nd Edition, by Robert C. Brown, 2014, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

*E-Book Option: An online version of this text is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book. You can access the E-Book through the Library Resources link on the course navigation. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help (UL-RESERVESHELP@LISTS.PSU.EDU).

Additional course readings and materials will be available within some Modules.

Course E-Reserves:

  • This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. To access these materials, use the Library Resources link on the left navigation menu. The materials will be listed alphabetically.

 

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Policies.

 

PSU Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University’s Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University’s standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Penn State staff  works with thousands of students per year in group therapy, individual counseling, crisis intervention, and psychiatric services as well as providing prevention, outreach, and consultation services for the University community. Services at CAPS are designed to enhance students' ability to fully benefit from the University environment and academic experience.

Staff at CAPS can help students address concerns in a caring and supportive environment. CAPS can help students resolve personal concerns that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, and satisfaction at Penn State. Some of the more common concerns include anxiety, depression, difficulties in relationships (friends, roommates, or family); sexual identity; lack of motivation or difficulty relaxing, concentrating or studying; eating disorders; sexual assault and sexual abuse recovery; and uncertainties about personal values and beliefs. For more information, please visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) website.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.