ABE 888 Syllabus

ABE 888: Conversion Technologies for Bioenergy Production (3). This course examines chemical conversion technologies for the production of biodiesel; biochemical conversion technologies for biofuels, including reactor microbial kinetics and design; thermochemical conversion technologies such as gasification, pyrolysis, and Fischer–Tropsch synthesis; and, bioseparation technologies such as centrifugation/filtration, distillation, membrane processes, and adsorptive separations. Prerequisite: ABE 884: Biomass Energy Systems


Dr. Ali Demirci

Dr. Ali Demirci, Professor
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
231 Agricultural Engineering Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA, 16802
814-863-1098 (office)
E-mail: Please use Inbox in Canvas

Office Hours:
Mondays 1:00-3:00pm EST (Any questions emailed to me before 1:00PM will be answered by 4:00PM during my 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

The purpose of this course is to provide an understanding of conversions of raw agricultural materials into bioenergy with a focus on liquid biofuels. This course presents in-depth coverage of chemical, biochemical, and thermo-chemical conversion technologies for the production of bioenergy as well as separation of bioenergy compounds from the mixture. Each part in this course is unique within itself and covers different aspects of conversion technologies for the production of bioenergy from biomass.

Major Topics

Part 1: Chemical Conversion Technologies

Biodiesel Basics; Feedstocks; Process Alternatives; Biodiesel Quality and Testing Biodiesel Safety

Part 2: Biochemical Conversion Technologies
Stirred Tank Reactors; Batch Fermentation and Microbial Growth; Continuous Fermentation and Kinetics; Aeration and Oxygen Transfer

Part 3: Thermochemical Conversion Technologies
Biomass Gasification for Synthesis Gas; Biomass Pyrolysis (coke, gas, and bio-oils); Fischer–Tropsch Synthesis (methanol, acetic acid, olefins, etc.); Combustion forHeat

Part 4: Bioseparations
Centrifugation/Filtration for Biomass Separation; Distillation (bioethanol and biodiesel production); Membrane Processes (Ultrafiltration, microfiltration, Pervaporation (alcohol/water separations); Adsorptive Separations (zeolites and chromatography)

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the conversion technologies for bioenergy production and associated downstream processing.
  • Describe the fundamentals of biodiesel and other biofuels via thermal and microbial conversion techniques as well as downstream processing for recovery of the product.
  • Have the knowledge needed to work in areas related to bioenergy production.

Evaluation and Grading

Grading Scale
Excellent A 90 and above
A- 85 - 89
Good B+ 80 - 84
B 75 - 79
B- 70 - 74
C+ 65 - 69
Satisfactory C 60 - 64
D 50 - 60
Failure F 49 and less
  1. Homework assignments (30%).
  2. Midterm Exam (40%)
  3. Final Exam (30%)

Policies and Guidelines

  1. Assignment/Quizzes will be due one week from the date of the module is completed unless specified.
  2. Graphical results and tables must have captions and be completely labeled with units.
  3. Students are responsible for any of their missed homework, reports, and other assignments. The instructor will NOT be obligated to inform students their missed work.
  4. Late work will lose 10% for each day late (unless prior approval was obtained) (Note: 10% means 10% of the maximum possible for that work).
  5. Reading assignments are selected carefully; they will be included in exams and quizzes.

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Suggested Readings

Textbook: Michael L. Shuler and Fikret Kargi. 2002. Bioprocess Engineering: Basic Concepts. 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. ISBN: 9780130819086

Additional course readings and materials will be available in your class in Canvas.

This course requires that you access Penn State library materials specifically reserved for this course. To access these materials, select Library Resources link on the navigation menu, E-Reserves. 


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" on the World Campus Student Policies Web site.

Formal instruction will end on the last day of class. Provided that you have an active Penn State Access Account, userid, and password, you will continue to be able to access the course materials for one year from the day the course began (with the exception of library reserves)

Class Website

Your course is being offered through the Canvas LMS.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the World Campus’s Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the Internet).
  • You must be able conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the Internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the Internet.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion forum postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Support Services 

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more.  Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you have any type of technical problems, you can use the “Help” link in the Canvas navigation menu or contact the World Campus Help Desk.

Penn State 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.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias webpage.

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.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week)
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week)
Mental Health Services

(814) 863-0395
(877) 229-6400
Text LIONS to 741741

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.

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.