FSC 432
Petroleum Processing



FSC 432: Petroleum Processing

Fall 2023 Syllabus

This syllabus is divided into several sections. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as the material covered in the course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Dr. Semih Eser is the instructor for FSC 432. For contact information, please see below.

Image of Dr. Semih Eser looking at flowers

Dr. Semih Eser, Professor of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Email: Please contact me only through the course email system in Canvas -see the Inbox on the left bar - to make sure my timely receipt of your message. NOTE: I will read and respond to Canvas email and discussion forums at least once per day during the workweek (Monday through Friday). You may see me online occasionally on the weekends, but please don't count on it!

Office Hours:  I will hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 pm in 114A Hosler Building.  Please email me preferably by the night before the day you are planning to come over and the time you would like to meet with me. 

Course Overview

Description: A study of physical and chemical processes to convert crude oil into desired products with an outlook from present to future.

Prerequisites: CHEM 202, or CHEM 210

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see Senate policy 34-60, Prerequisites, Concurrent Courses, Co-requisite Courses, and Recommended Preparation). If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 of the Student Code of Conduct.

What is FSC 432?

Petroleum provides the largest fraction of primary energy supply in the U.S. and in the world. Transportation of people and goods in many parts of the world depend almost completely on petroleum fuels, such as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, and marine fuel. Apart from the fuels, materials that are necessary for operating the combustion engines of cars, trucks, planes, and trains also come from petroleum. These materials include lubricating oils (motor oils), greases, tires on the wheels of the vehicles, and asphalt to pave the roads for smooth rides in transportation vehicles. All petroleum fuels and many materials are produced by processing of crude oil in petroleum refineries. Petroleum refineries also supply feedstock to the petrochemicals and chemical industry for producing all consumer goods from rubber and plastics (polymers) to cosmetics and medicine. This course addresses petroleum refining to review how a variety of physical processes and chemical reactions in separate refinery units are integrated to process compliant fuels and materials.

What We Expect of You

On average, most students spend eight to ten hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits.

We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but in one sense it is no different than a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us as well as with your fellow students.

Course Goals and Outcomes

The objectives of the course shall be to enable students to:

  1. explain the market drivers for the refining industry (ABET student outcome 2).
  2. indicate what crude oils consist of and how crude oils are characterized based on their physical properties(ABET 1, 2);
  3. express the objectives of petroleum refining and classify the processes used in petroleum refining (ABET 1, 2, 7);
  4. demonstrate how a petroleum refinery works and sketch a flow diagram that integrates all refining processes and the resulting refinery products (ABET 2);
  5. examine how each refinery process works and how physical and chemical principles are applied to achieve the objectives of each refinery process (ABET 1, 2, 7);
  6. assess implications of changing crude oil feedstocks on refinery configuration and propose strategies to resolve conflicts with degrading crude oil quality and increasingly stringent environmental regulations on petroleum fuels (ABET outcome 4, 7);
  7. discuss different sources of natural gas and explain how natural gas is processed at well sites and in processing plants with application of selected refinery processes and other physical operations (ABET 1, 2).

Specific learning objectives for each lesson are detailed within each lesson. The class schedule is published below.

Recommended Course Materials

The following book constitutes the principal textbook that is recommended for the course.

Gary, J.H., and Handwerk, G.E, Kaiser, M. J. (2007) Petroleum Refining. 5th Edition. CRC Press N.Y., New York.

Since this book is out of print, the instructor has adopted the 6th edition of the book as a supplementary textbook, shown below, in case you cannot access a copy of the 5th Edition. Selected sections of the 5th Edition are available as pdf in e-reserves that you can access through the Library Resources on Canvas.

Mark J. Kaiser, Arno de Klerk, James H. Gary, and Glenn E. Handwerk (2020) Petroleum Refining Technology, Economics, and Markets. 6th Edition. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All other materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access all materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the ITS Help Desk.

Assistance with textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please contact your academic advisor. For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir or visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 222 Boucke Building or call 814-863-2020.

Weekly Assignments and Grading

Breakdown of each assignment's value and requirements.
Component # Assigned % of Grade Description
Exercises 10 30% Solve and submit the assigned problems (3 pts each).
Quizzes 4 20% Quizzes cover typically 2 weeks' worth of content given after Lessons 2, 4, 8, and 10 (5 pts each).
Exam 1 1 15% Cover Lessons 1-5. Given after Lesson 5. 15 pts.
Exam 2 1 15% Cover Lessons 6-9. Given after Lesson 9. 15 pts.
Final 1 20% Comprehensive exam covering all course material. 20pts.

The course has 12 lessons of one week each. Four quizzes and two exams will be given for the assessment of learning. There is also a final exam given during the final exam period. In each of the lessons, to achieve the learning outcomes, students will read the material, fill in knowledge-check questions and complete the assigned exercises. There will be a total of 10 exercises. Students will take all their quizzes and exams online during the designated time periods according to the course schedule given below.


Readings are important to enhance learning in this course. Textbook reading assignments for both editions of the book are given as references in each lesson. The lessons and textbook material are complementary to each other. It is recommended that you keep the book at hand as you go through the lessons and make sure that you read the sections of the book that are referenced in the lessons.


Assignments are meant to encourage students to review and research course material and solve numerical problems. Use the Help Discussion Forum to post all your questions about the course material and exercises. Do not use email to ask questions about the course or the assignments.

Exercises will be submitted to designated drop boxes in Canvas. Scans of handwritten pages are not acceptable in most circumstances unless noted in the assignment instructions to encourage you to submit professional documents. The quizzes will consist of questions with multiple choice answers. The quizzes will be available for students to take on the web for a whole day (from 12:01 a.m. to 11: 59 p.m.) on the scheduled day. Students need to complete each quiz typically 60 minutes after they start taking the assessment. The time allotted may vary for some quizzes.


Two mid-semester exams and one final exam will require you to integrate your knowledge of the topic areas and reading assignments. Exams will also include questions with multiple choice answers and problems similar to those assigned in the quizzes. Exam 1 covers a 5-week segment, and Exam 2 covers a 4-week segment of the course as designated. The final exam will be comprehensive and cover all the lessons in the course. Similar to the mid-semester exams, the final exam will consist of questions with multiple choice answers and problems.  Exam 1, Exam 2, and Final exam will be etests and administred at the UP Testing Center. Note: You should schedule your exam as soon as you are notified by the testing center to secure a time slot that best fits your schedule. 

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages (percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student):

Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentage
Grade Percent
A 94 – 100%
A- 90 – 93.9%
B+ 87 – 89.9%
B 84 – 86.9%
B- 80 – 83.9%
C+ 77 – 79.9%
C 70 – 76.9%
D 60.0 – 69.9%
F < 60.0%

FSC 432 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

As the schedule may change, please be sure to check it often! If you have a question about when something is due, ask your instructors!

Course Schedule
Week 1

Course Orientation

Orientation material on FSC 432 Course Orientation

Complete course orientation by 11:55 p.m., Friday.

Week 2 Lesson 1: Refinery Introduction and Crude Oil Composition

Petroleum Refining, by J. H. Gary, G. E. Handwerk, M. J. Kaiser, 5th Edition, CRC Press NY, 2007, 5th Edition.

Chapter 1, pp. 1-32.

Mark J. Kaiser, Arno de Klerk, James H. Gary, and Glenn E. Handwerk (2020) Petroleum Refining Technology, Economics, and Markets. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. 6th Edition.

Preface, Chapter 1.1, 1.1.1

Complete Lesson 1 and the assigned reading by 11:55 p.m. Subsequent Lessons and the corresponding reading material should be completed on a weekly schedule by 11:55 p.m. on Friday of each week as assigned.
Week 3 Lesson 2: Physical Properties and Classification of Crude Oils

5th Edition: Chapter 3

6th Edition: Chapter 11, Chapter 11.3 – 11.5

Exercise 1
Week 4 Lesson 3: Overall Refinery Flow

5th Edition: Chapter 1, pp. 32-36, Chapter 2.

6th Edition: Chapter 2, Chapter 3.1

Quiz 1: Lessons 1 and 2

Exercise 2

Week 5 Lesson 4: Separation Processes 1-Distillation of Crude Oil

5th Edition: Chapter 4

6th Edition Chapter 3.2

Exercise 3 

Week 6 Lesson 5: Separation Processes 2- Distillation in Light Ends Unit, Deasphalting, and Dewaxing Processes

5th Edition: Chapter 15

6th Edition: Chapter 23, Chapter 35, Chapter 28.2.4

Quiz 2: Lessons 3 and 4

Exercise 4

Week 7 Lesson 6: Thermal Conversion Processes

5th Edition: Chapter 5.

6th Edition: Chapter 3.3, Chapter 3.3.1 Thermal Cracking, Chapter 24.3 Thermal Cracking, Chapter 24 Visbreaking, Chapter 24.1, 24.2, Chapter 24.3 Thermal Cracking, Chapter 24.3.1 Thermal Cracking Chemistry, Chapter 3.3.4 Coking

Exercise 5

Week 8 Lesson 7: Catalytic Conversion Processes 1: Catalytic Cracking and Hydrocracking 5th Edition: Chapters 6, 7, 8

6th Edition: Chapter 3.3.2 Catalytic Cracking, Chapter 5.3.3 Catalytic Cracking, Chapter 27 Fluid Catalytic Cracking, Chapter 27.3.1 – 27.3.4 Catalytic Reaction Chemistry, Conversion, and Catalysts, Chapter 27. 4 Fluid Catalytic Cracking Operation, Chapter 27.2.3 Residue Fluid Catalytic Cracking, Chapter 3.3.3 Hydrocracking, Chapter 5.3.4 Hydrocracking, Chapter 28 Hydrocracking

Exam 1: Lessons 1-5

Exercise 6

Week 9 Lesson 8: Catalytic Conversion Processes 2 - Catalytic Reforming, Alkylation, Polymerization, and Isomerization

5th Edition: Chapters 10, 11
6th Edition: Chapter 3.4.2 Catalytic Reforming, Chapter 3.4.3 Alkylation, Chapter 32 Alkylation, Chapter 3.4.4 Isomerization, Chapter 30.3 Catalytic Hydroisomerization, Chapter 3.4 Finishing

Quiz 3: Lessons 6 and 7

Exercise 7

Week 10 Lesson 9: Finishing Processes: Hydrotreating and Blending

5th Edition: Chapters 9, 12

6th Edition: Chapter 3.4.1 Hydrotreating, Chapter 29 Hydrotreating, Chapter 20 Product Blending

Exercise 8

Week 11 Lesson 10: Supporting Processes

5th Edition: Chapter 13

6th Edition: Chapter 36 Supporting Processes

Exam 2: Lessons 6-9

Exercise 9

Week 12 Lesson 11: Past and Future of Petroleum Refining F. Self, E. Ekholm, and K. Bowers, Refining Overview - Petroleum, Processes and Products, AIChE CD-ROM, 2000. Selected chapters available in Canvas.

Exercise 10

Week 13 Lesson 12: Natural Gas Processing Processing Natural Gas Quiz 4: Lessons 10 and 11.
Week 15-17 Study Week and Final Exam

Final Exam: Lessons 1-12

A note about assignments:

If you have a question regarding an activity due at 11:55 one evening, I must receive your question via Canvas Discussion Forum no later than noon, Eastern time on that day. Queries sent after noon, Eastern time on the day an assignment is due may not be responded to, so please don't procrastinate!

Course Policies

Make-up exams and late homework

Make-up exams will be given and late homework assignments may be accepted under the following circumstances: (1) if prearranged with the instructor before the exams and assignments are due; (2) if the result of a documented emergency; or (3) if documented illness. The exam or assignment grades will be a zero unless all these conditions are met. Other excuses are not valid.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site, which means that your connection is encrypted. We do, however, link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted. This is called mixed content. By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed. Follow the directions on our Technical Requirements page to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the procedures for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's Academic Integrity Training for Students

Course Copyright

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.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students 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 Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation. See documentation guidelines at Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. 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.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering 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 (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being.  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.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

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.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision-making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information to others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming, and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.