James W Klett

Research Staff

Dr. James W. Klett is a U. S. Citizen and a native of south Florida.  He received his B. S. in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University in May of 1990.  He enrolled in graduate school to get his masters degree in Chemical Engineering and focused his research on developing a weavable pre-impregnated fiber tow to fabricate carbon/carbon composites for aerospace applications.  James completed his M. S. degree in December 1991 and entered the Ph. D. program in chemical engineering at Clemson and minored in applied mathematics.  His Ph. D. research focused on fabricating high thermal conductivity carbon/carbon composites, continuing the work started in his Masters’ research.  In addition, he developed a mathematical model, utilizing the finite element method, which predicts the thermal conductivity in these highly anisotropic, three phase systems. 

Dr. Klett graduated with his Ph. D. in December 1994, and joined the staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and in only 7 years was promoted to Senior Research Staff Member.  During this time he has studied carbon in its various forms and applications, from biomedical implants to aerospace heat shields to nuclear reactor materials.  One focus of his research has been the development of a low cost method for the fabrication of carbon/carbon composites, which has been patented and licensed to a major brake manufacturer.  The discovery of a process to produce high thermal conductivity graphite foam has led to his research focusing on thermal management materials in applications from personal computers to automobiles to military platforms.  James developed a flexible heat pipe used for cooling soldiers and has field tested more than 200 units in IRAQ.  James has worked with several companies with the graphite foam to commercialize several applications ranging from satellite radiators (3 currently orbiting Earth and 2 orbiting the moon) to LED lighting.  Currently, he holds 27 US patents on carbon materials, and more than 35 foreign patents.

Brief Synopsis of Current Research Activities:

Current Programs:

  • Development of high thermal conductivity carbon foam heat exchangers and heat sinks for power electronics and other electronic applications.
  • Development of high thermal conductivity carbon foam automotive radiator applications.
  • Development of high thermal conductivity carbon foam pistons and other engine components.
  • Development of a porous fibrous ceramic substrate for catalytic combustors for the reduction of NOx in gas turbine power generators.
  • Development of low-cost graphitic bi-polar plate based on slurry molding techniques for the miniaturization of PEM fuel cells for automotive applications.
  • Development of thermal management fabrics for the National Security Programs Office.

Research Interests:

  • To optimize the above mentioned processes for the fabrication of high thermal conductivity carbon/carbon composites for use as thermal substrates.
  • Oxidative stabilization of mesophase pitch to increase the density and mechanical properties of thick carbon/carbon composites in a single cycle processing step.
  • Evaluate the use of carbon molecular sieves for the purification of waste water streams from sewage treatment plants. Such sieves can be used to remove organic compounds, heavy metal ions and other compounds added to the sewage stream during treaments.


1998 Co-Engineer of the Year for Oak Ridge National Laboratory
1998 Development Accomplishment Award


"Process for Coating Carbon Fibers with Pitch and Composites made Therefrom" U.S. Serial number 5,334,414. Assigned to Clemson University.
"Method for Rapid Fabrication of Fiber Preforms and Structural Composite Materials," U.S. Serial number 5,744,075, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.