Brenner, James

Assistant Professor
Chemical Engineering

Personal Overview

Prof. Brenner obtained his B.S. in ChE from the
University of Delaware. While at Delaware, he
completed two Monte Carlo simulation projects.
The first involved the depolymerization of lignin
(wood), the first step in papermaking. The
second project involved the generation of
hydrogenated amorphous silicon thin film
semiconductors, followed by an analysis of how
synthesis conditions affected film
properties and device performance.

He then went on to do his M.S. and Ph.D.
degrees in chemical engineering from The
University of Michigan under Prof. Levi Thompson,
with his work focusing on development of catalysts
for hydrodesulfurization and hydrodenitrogenation
of crude oil. Since the start of Dr. Brenner's
graduate work, the key themes of his work are

1) development and characterization of novel porous materials;
2) applications involving interstitial compounds; and
3) characterization and applications development involving
interactions of molecules with surfaces.

During this time, Prof. Brenner became an expert in a
number of areas of materials characterization
including Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy of
molecules adsorbed (sticking) to surfaces and
temperature-programmed desorption of these molecules,
residual gas analysis of molecules desorbed from surfaces,
chemisorption and physisorption, pore and particle size
distribution analysis, surface area measurements, and
scanning and transmission electron microscopies.
Prof. Brenner's synthesis expertise during this time
was in the development of porous, high surface area metal
nitrides and carbides, which are interstitial compounds.

After continuing similar work, as well as some work in the area of nanotechnology while a postdoc at Argonne National Laboratory,  Prof. Brenner worked at Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC) in the area of hydrogen storage using metal hydrides, yet another class of interstitial compounds. His key development during his work at WSRC was the use of metallic foams, a new class of porous metals, as media for the enhancement of heat transfer into and out of hydrogen storage beds. Such a development was critical for our nation's tritium mission (Tritium is a nuclear isotope of hydrogen.), but if hydrogen vehicles were to become a reality, cutting down the time for refueling to a reasonable time, as this heat transfer improvement enabled, was critical.

At Florida Tech from 1998-2008, Prof. Brenner worked in the following areas:

a) hydrogen purification and sensing;

b) molecularly imprinted polymer-based sensing; and

c) nanotechnology education

Since 2008, all but one of Dr. Brenner's research projects have evolved out of his nanotechnology education research and has shifted much more toward biomedical applications of nanotechnology.

a) self-assembly of a range of nanomaterials including zeolites, protein fibers characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, and ammonium hydrogen phosphate;

b) uric acid crystallization and its effects on osteoporosis and gout;

c) improved syntheses of nanomaterials with emphases on narrow particle and pore size distributions;

d) electrical and colorimetric biosensing with modified gold nanoparticles;

e) genetic modification using a gene gun and modified gold nanoparticles; and

f) development of a hybrid of 3-D printing (rapid prototyping) and electrospinning for inexpensive, yet precise "printing" of tissue scaffolding.

The one non-nano project Dr. Brenner is working on involves environmental testing chambers for collection of mechanical property data for materials under extreme (cryogenic or very high temperature, controlled atmosphere, cyclic fatigue, corrosion (including with salt water), AND/OR creep) conditions.  He is looking to determine the root cause of failures under situations where multiple possible failure mechanisms are possible.

Educational Background

Ph.D., ChE, The University of Michigan, 1994
M.S., ChE, The University of Michigan, 1991
B.S., ChE, The University of Delaware, 1989

Recognition & Awards

2001-2002 and 2002-2003 College of Engineering Teacher of the Year (as voted by students)

2005-2006 Educator of the Year (university-wide);

Alpha Phi Teacher of the Year in 2006-2007;

university-wide award of Teacher of the Year by the Future Educators of America in 2002 and in 2007. 

College of Engineering Teacher of the Year by the College of Engineering in 2009

Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Florida Tech Faculty Senate in 2010.

April, 2007-March, 2008.  Florida Tech Faculty Senate President including the following awards:  Gavel Award for Distinguished University Service in 2008 and the College of Engineering's Service Award in 2008. 

Oct. 1997-July, 1998,  Westinghouse Savannah River Co. Vice President's Award

Current Courses

CHE 1101 Introduction to Chemical Engineering I (process engineering)

CHE 1102 Introduction to Chemical Engineering II (spreadsheet calculations, curve fitting, plotting)

CHE 3260 Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering

CHE 3265 Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory

CHE 1091 Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Lab I

CHE 5567 Nanotechnology

CHE 5569 Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering

CHE 4568 Materials Characterization Laboratory

CHE 4566 Nanotechnology Laboratory 2

CHE 4288 Petroleum Refining

CHE 5252 Catalytic Reactor Design

Professional Experience

May, 2008-current, Director of Chemical Engineering on Board of Advisors, Florida Syngas, Inc.

Vice President for Sensor Development, Meditech Fefer, 2001.

Senior Engineer, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Process Technology Group, Chemical & Hydrogen Technology, 1997-1998.

Postdoctoral Research Chemist, Argonne National Laboratory, 1994-1997.

Additional Duties

Materials Lab Coordinator, Faculty Senate Administrative Policies Chair, Secretary of the AIChE East Central Florida local section, College of Engineering council member, Winterim committee member

Current Research

Since 2008, all but one of Dr. Brenner's research projects have evolved out of his nanotechnology education research and has shifted much more toward biomedical applications of nanotechnology.

a) self-assembly of a range of nanomaterials including zeolites, protein fibers characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, and ammonium hydrogen phosphate;

b) uric acid crystallization and its effects on osteoporosis and gout;

c) improved syntheses of nanomaterials with emphases on narrow particle and pore size distributions;

d) electrical and colorimetric biosensing with modified gold nanoparticles;

e) genetic modification using a gene gun and modified gold nanoparticles; and

f) development of a hybrid of 3-D printing (rapid prototyping) and electrospinning for inexpensive, yet precise "printing" of tissue scaffolding.

The one non-nano project Dr. Brenner is working on involves environmental testing chambers for collection of mechanical property data for materials under extreme (cryogenic or very high temperature, controlled atmosphere, cyclic fatigue, corrosion (including with salt water), AND/OR creep) conditions.  He is looking to determine the root cause of failures under situations where multiple possible failure mechanisms are possible.

Selected Publications

Development of a Passively Cooled, Electrically Heated Hydride (PACE) Bed. J.E. Klein, J.R. Brenner, and E.F. Dyer, Fusion Science and Technology 41 (2002) 782-787.

High Performance Polyimide Foams. M.K. Williams, G.L. Nelson, J.R. Brenner, E.S. Weiser, E.S., and T.L. St.Clair, ed. by G.L. Nelson and C.A. Wilkie, in ACS Symposium Series #797/Fires and Polymers: Materials and Solutions for Hazard Prevention, American Chemical Society/Oxford Press (2001) 49-62.

Microstructural Characterization of Highly HDS-Active Co6S8-Pillared Molybdenum Sulfides. J.R. Brenner, C.L. Marshall, L. Ellis, N. Tomczyk, J. Heising and M.G. Kanatzidis. Chem. Mater. 10 (1998) 1244-1257.