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Semih Eser

Professor of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering;

Undergraduate Program Chair of Energy and Fuels Engineering Option

114A Hosler Building


Biographical Sketch: 

Semih Eser is a Professor of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering. Eser received his B.S. (1976) and M.S. (1978) degrees in Chemical Engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and his Ph.D. (1986) in Fuel Science from Penn State University. From 1987 to 1988, he worked as a research associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Auburn University. He returned to Penn State in 1988 and was appointed as an assistant professor of Fuel Science in 1989. He served the Department of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering as Associate Head (2001-2006) and Acting Head (2004). At the EMS Energy Institute, Eser served as the associate director and director of the Laboratory for Hydrocarbon Process Chemistry (1995-2000). Currently, he teaches at the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and serves as the Director of Carbon Materials Program at the EMS Energy Institute. His professional activities include serving as Program Chair (2004) and Executive Committee Chair (2006), and Councilor (2010-2012) of the Fuel Chemistry Division, and Councilor (2013-2015) of the Energy and Fuels Division of American Chemical Society. He has been inducted as an ACS Fellow in 2014.  Professor Eser is currently serving on the editorial boards of the Journal of ASTM International, Journal of Oil, Gas, and Coal Technology, Journal of New Carbon Materials, and as section editor of Energy and Fuels in the Chemistry Central Journal.  Eser's research interests include the reactivity and microscopic characterization of cokes and carbons, coke/carbon formation and deposition mechanisms, inhibition of undesired carbon deposition, and molecular analysis and processing of petroleum feedstocks. In 2014, Professor Eser has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at Izmir Technology Institute in Turkey.  

Educational Background: 

Ph.D. (Fuel Science), The Pennsylvania State University, 1986

M.S. (Chemical Engineering), Middle East Technical University, 1978

B.S. (Chemical Engineering), Middle East Technical University, 1976

Research Interests: 
  • Carbon materials from petroleum and coal
  • Undesirable carbon deposition in engine fuel and lubrication systems and in process units
  • Preparation of activated carbons
  • Upgrading petroleum residua
  • Catalytic oxidation of solid carbons
Active Research Projects: 

Active research projects involve the desirable and undesirable coke/carbon formation in petroleum refining processes and internal combustion engines. Common themes and tools used in these projects include microscopic characterization of the solid carbons (polarized-light microscopy, SEM, and TEM, as necessary) along with X-ray diffraction (XRD), spectroscopic (EDX, XPS, etc.), and reactivity (temperature-programmed oxidation) analyses to understand the formation/deposition pathways. A careful synthesis of data from microscopic and spectroscopic analyses provides means of promoting desirable reactions (e.g., carbonaceous mesophase formation for manufacturing graphitizable cokes) and inhibiting undesirable reactions (e.g., solid deposition in engine fuel and lubrication systems).

Selected Publications: 
  1. M. Martin-Martinez, A. Álvarez-Montero, L.M. Gómez-Sainero, R.T.Baker, J. Palomar, S. Omar, S. Eser, J.J. Rodriguez, “Deactivation Behavior of Pd/C and Pt/C Catalysts in the Gas-Phase Hydrodechlorination of Chloromethanes: Structure–Reactivity Relationship,” Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 162, 532-543, 2014.
  2. N. Alonso-Morales, M. A. Gilarranz, F. Heras, J. J. Rodriguez, and S. Eser, “Oxidation Reactivity and Structure of LDPE-Derived Solid Carbons: A Temperature-Programmed Oxidation Study,” Energy Fuels 27, 1151-1161, 2013.
  3. N. Alonso-Morales, M. A. Gilarranz, F. Heras, J. J. Rodriguez, S. Eser (3), “Effects of Heat Treatment on the Structure of LDPE-Derived Solid Carbons,” Chem. Eng. J. 172, 1126-1136, 2011.
  4. A. Ram Mohan, S. Eser, “Effectiveness of Low-Pressure Metal-Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition Coatings on Metal Surfaces for the Mitigation of Fouling from Heated Jet Fuel,” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 50, 7290-7304, 2011.
  5. R. Venkataraman and S. Eser, "Characterization of Solid Deposits Formed from Jet Fuel Degradation under Pyrolytic Conditions: Metal Sulfides," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 47, 9351-9360, 2008.
  6. G. Wang and S. Eser, "Molecular Composition of the High-Boiling Components of Needle Coke Feedstocks and Mesophase Development," Energy Fuels 21, 3563-3572, 2007.
  7. O. Altin and S. Eser, "Pre-oxidation of Inconel Alloys for Inhibition of Carbon Deposition from Heated Jet Fuel," Oxid. Met. 65, 75-99, 2006.
  8. S. Eser, R. Venkataraman, and O. Altin, "Utility of Temperature-Programmed Oxidation for Characterization of Carbonaceous Deposits from Heated Jet Fuel," Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 45(26), 8956-8962, 2006.
  9. H. Groenzin, O. C. Mullins, S. Eser, J. Mathews, M. G. Yang, D, Jones, "Molecular Size of Asphaltene Solubility Fractions," Energy Fuels 17, 498-503, 2003.
  10. S.A.Carabineiro, I.F. Silva, M. Klimkiewicz, and S. Eser, "In-Situ Techniques for Studying Deterioration of C/C Composite Aircraft Brakes by Catalytic Oxidation," Mater. Corros. 50, 1-7, 1999.
Recent Activities: 

Service to Penn State

John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering

  • Department P&T Committee, 2013-2014
  • Associate Department Head, 2001- 2006
  • Acting Department Head, January 1 -August 15, 2004
  • Faculty Search Committee, Chair, 2008
  • Graduate Education and Research Committee, Chair, 2004-2005
  • Scholarships and Awards Committee, Chair, 2001-2006
  • Strategic Planning Committee, Chair, 2001-2002

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

  • College P&T Committee
  • Search Committee for the EGEE Department Head, 2004
  • Diversity Task Force, 2002
  • Environment Committee, Chair, 2002
  • Undergraduate Programs Advisory Committee (UPAC), 2001-2006
  • Scholarship Committee, 2001-2006

EMS Energy Institute

  • Director, Carbon Materials Program, 2000 - present
  • Laboratory for Hydrocarbon Process Chemistry, Director, 1998 - 2000; Associate Director, 1995 - 1998

Penn State University

  • Schreyer Honors College Faculty Advisory Committee, 2005 - 2011
  • Graduate Council, Member, 2001-2002, 2002-2004
    • Committee on Graduate Students and Faculty Issues, 2001-2002
    • Fellowships and Awards Committee, 2002-2004
  • Graduate School Teaching Certificate Committee, 2003
  • Advisory Committee for International Partnerships and Academic Linkages, 2003
  • Teaching and Learning Consortium Chair, Faculty Team, 2001- 2003
  • Co-chair, TLC Colloquy VIII, 2002
  • Chair, Proposal Review Committee, TLC Colloquy VIII, 2002
  • Search Committee for the Director of Science Technology and Society Program, 2002

Professional Services

Editorship/Editorial Boards

  • Co-editor and co-author (5 chapters) for ASTM’s Handbook of Petroleum and Natural Gas Refining and Processing, Editors: M. R. Riazi, S. Eser, J. L. Peña
  • 33 chapters, published in 2013 by ASTM International
  • Journal New Carbon Materials (2010- present)
  • J. Int Journal of Oil, Gas, and Coal Technology, 2007-present
  • Editorial Board - Chemistry Central Journal (Founding Editor for Energy & Fuels), 2006- present
  • Journal of ASTM International, 2003- present

Professional Organizations

  • American Chemical Society, member since 1986
    • Division of Fuel Chemistry
      • Executive Committee Chair, 2006; Program Chair, 2004; Membership Chair, 1997-2001
      • Councilor, 2010-2012
      • Chair, Henry H. Storch Award Symposium, 2009
      • Organizer and chair of eight other topical symposia and two general papers symposia
    • Division of Energy and Fuels
      • Councilor, 2013-2015
    • American Carbon Society, member since 1983
      • Advisory Committee for 2010-2016 term, Awards Secretary 2010-2016
      • International Advisory Board for the Annual World Conference on Carbon, Shanghai, China , 2011
      • Chairman for 12 sessions between 1989 and 2013
    • Phi Kappa Phi/Penn State Chapter, member since 1984
      • Treasurer, 2006-2008
    • American Society for Engineering Education, member 1999 -2005


  • Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Service Award, 1996
  • ACS, Fuel Chemistry Division, Outstanding Service Award, 1997, 2000, 2004
  • ACS 1999 ChemLuminary award on behalf of the Fuel Chemistry Division in the ACS Division Membership Contest, 218th ACS National Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 1999
  • College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Wilson Award for Outstanding Teaching, 2001
  • ACS Innovative Projects Fund for Divisional Enhancement Award for "Attracting Graduate and Undergraduate Students to Divisional Activities at ACS National Meetings," 2005.
  • ACS Innovative Projects Fund for Divisional Enhancement Award for "Public Education and Outreach for Basic Literacy on Energy and Fuel Issues," 2006.
  • ACS 2007 ChemLuminary Award on behalf of the Fuel Chemistry Division for "Recognition of Innovation and Outstanding Service to Members of a Division," 2007.
  • 2014 ACS Fellow, 2014
  • Fulbright Scholarship to teach at Izmir Technology Institute, Turkey, 2014