All course information is listed within this syllabus.

ABE 888: Conversion Technologies for Bioenergy Production (3 credits). 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


Instructor for ABE 888

Dr. Ali Demirci

Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
231 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA, 16802

Office: 814-863-1098
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

Office Hours:
Mondays 1:00–3:00 p.m. EST (Any questions e-mailed to me before 1:00 p.m. will be answered by 4:00 p.m. during my office hours). You can, however, e-mail me at any time you need my assistance with course-related issues and I will do my best to respond within 48 hrs.

Course Overview

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.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Textbook: Michael L. Shuler and Fikret Kargi. 2017. Bioprocess Engineering: Basic Concepts. 3rd Edition. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. ISBN: 13: 978-0-13-706270-6

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: 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)

Grading Policy

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value Weight
Homework Assignments 130 30%
Midterm Exam 200 40%
Final Exam 100 30%
TOTAL: 430 100%
Grading Scheme
Rating Letter Grade Percentage
Excellent A 100% – 90%
A- < 90% – 85%
Good B+ < 85% – 80%
B < 80% – 75%
B- < 75% – 70%
C+ < 70% – 65%
Satisfactory C < 65% – 60%
D < 60% – 50%
Failure F < 50%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

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 Resources.

Policies and Guidelines

  1. Assignment/Quizzes will be due one week from the date 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 of 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 an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' 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 to 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.

Getting Help With Canvas Courses

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Accessibility Information


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Penn State Policies

Login 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.

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Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

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Please 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.

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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 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.

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