James E. Atwater

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James E. Atwater (born 1946) is a retired North American multidisciplinary physical scientist with training in geophysics, chemistry and biological science. He was awarded the Wright Brothers Medal[1] for his work on microwave powered methods for microbial stabilization and water recovery from solid waste. Atwater served in the United States Marine Corps [1963-1967] prior to attending the University of Utah [1968-1975]. In his early career [1977-1980] Atwater concentrated on methods and instrumentation for identification and quantification of radionuclides associated with uranium exploration and recovery by gamma ray and alpha particle energy spectrometry. Subsequently [1980-1987] he applied radiometric geophysical well logging techniques to the characterization of sandstone, limestone, dolomite and shale core samples.[2][3][4][5] At this time he also refined methods for the determination of porosity and permeability of unconsolidated bitumen and heavy oil bearing sands. Later Atwater’s attention turned to problems of long-term human presence in space, working on regenerable systems for water and air purification,[6][7][8][9][10][11] and means for decomposition and stabilization of solid waste materials and recovery of useful resources therefrom.[12][13] During these years Atwater and colleagues also developed novel sensors and analytical instrumentation for monitoring and control of life support systems.[14][15][16] In addition to instrumentation and methods, much of this work entailed the development of novel materials[17] and the characterization of material properties, particularly with respect to magnetic[18][19][20][21][22] and broadband microwave dielectric phenomena.[23][24][25][26] Recent research includes the study of multiphase immiscible fluid flow in porous media, and the recovery of hydrogen from methane (natural gas) using magnetically stabilized fluidized bed and microwave plasma reactors.[27] Though in retirement, Atwater continues his association with former colleagues, providing theoretical analysis of experimental data, and preparation of materials for publication.


Atwater is the son of noted avalanche control pioneer and author Montgomery Atwater; the grandson of Maxwell Atwater, the first mining engineer to employ flotation hydrometallurgy in North America; and the grandson of Mary Meigs Atwater, the ‘Dean of American Hand Weaving’.


  1. ^ List of Wright Brothers Medal recipients.Society of Automotive Engineers. Accessed June 2, 2008. Award citation: "Development and Testing of a Microwave Powered Solid Waste Stabilization and Water Recovery System"
  2. ^ Atwater, J.E., Spectrometric Gamma Ray Logging of Core, Canadian Well Logging Society Journal 13(1), 29-39, 1984.
  3. ^ Matiisen, A., and Atwater, J.E., An Overview of Computer-Enhanced Analyses of Core Data, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology 23(3), 57-62, 1984.
  4. ^ Atwater, J.E., Correlation of Cation Exchange Capacity with Core Spectral Gamma Ray Logs, SPWLA 27th Annual Logging Symposium, Paper QQ, pp 1–16, 1986.
  5. ^ Codding, E.G., and Atwater, J.E., Application of Core Hydrocarbon Logging, Proceedings of the 37th Annual Technical Meeting of the Petroleum Society of CIM, Paper No. 86-37-20, pp 273–284, 1986.
  6. ^ Atwater, J.E., and Holtsnider, J.T., Airborne Trace Organic Contaminant Removal Using Thermally Regenerable Multi-Media Layered Sorbents, SAE Transactions, Journal of Aerospace 100, 1726-1733, 1991.
  7. ^ Atwater, J.E., Wheeler, R.R.,Jr., Olivadoti, J.T., Flanagan, D.T. and Sauer, R.L., Regenerable Microbial Check Valve: Life Cycle Tests Results, SAE Transactions, Journal of Aerospace 101, 1098-1107, 1992.
  8. ^ Atwater, J.E., Thermodynamics of the Oxidation of Dissolved Organic Contaminants in Shuttle Orbiter Humidity Condensates, Journal of Environmental Science & Health A30 (4), 817-830, 1995.
  9. ^ Schussel, L.J., and Atwater, J.E., A Continuous Alcohol Oxidase Bioreactor for Regenerative Life Support, Enzyme and Microbial Technology 18 (3), 229-235, 1996.
  10. ^ Atwater, J.E., Holtsnider, J.T., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., and Luna, B., Microwave-Powered Thermal Regeneration of Sorbents for CO2, Water Vapor and Trace Organic Contaminants, SAE Technical Paper Series No. 972430, presented at 27th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Lake Tahoe, NV, July 14–17, 1997.
  11. ^ Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Holtsnider, J.T., and Luna, B., Development and Testing of a Microwave Powered Regenerable Air Purification Technology Demonstrator, SAE Technical Paper 2002-01-2403, presented at 32nd International Conference on Environmental Systems, San Antonio, Texas, July 15–18, 2002.
  12. ^ Sornchamni, T., Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., and Jovanovic, G.N., Magnetically Assisted Filtration for Solid Waste Separation and Concentration in Microgravity and Hypogravity, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 44(24), 9199-9207, 2005.
  13. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Dahl, R.W., Hadley, N.M., Jovanovic, G.N., and Fisher, J.W., Magnetically Assisted Gasification of Solid Wastes: Comparison of Reaction Strategies, SAE Paper No. 2005-01-3081, presented 35th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Rome, July 11–14, 2005.
  14. ^ Atwater, J.E., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Sauer, R.L., and Schultz, J.R., A Multiplexed Four Channel On-Line Iodine Monitor, Instrumentation Science and Technology 22 (3), 217-229, 1994.
  15. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., DeHart, J., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., 'Reagentless ' Flow Analysis Determination of Hydrogen Peroxide by Electrocatalyzed Luminol Chemiluminescence, Analytical Letters 30 (1), 21-31, 1997.
  16. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., DeHart, J., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Enzymatic Determination of Ethanol using 'Reagentless' Electrocatalyzed Luminol Chemiluminescence, Analytical Letters 30 (8), 1445-1453, 1997.
  17. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Wang, T.-C., Kimura, S., and Johnson, D.C., Preparation of Silicon Carbide Coated Activated Carbon Using a High Temperature Fluidized Bed Reactor, Chemical Engineering Science 56(8), 2685–2693, 2001.
  18. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Jovanovic, G.N., and Sornchamni, T., Preparation of Metallic Cobalt and Cobalt-Barium Titanate Spheres as High Temperature Media for Magnetically Stabilized Fluidized Bed Reactors, Journal of Materials Science Letters 20(6), 487-488, 2001.
  19. ^ Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., Jovanovic, G.N., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., and Sornchamni, T., Porous Cobalt Spheres for High Temperature Gradient Magnetically Assisted Fluidized Beds, Materials Research Bulletin 38, 395-407, 2003.
  20. ^ Sornchamni, T., Jovanovic, G.N., Reed, B.P., Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Operation of Magnetically Assisted Fluidized Beds in Microgravity and Variable Gravity: Experiment and Theory, Advances in Space Research 34, 1494–1498, 2004.
  21. ^ Jovanovic, G.N., Sornchamni, T., Atwater, J.E., Akse, J.R., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Magnetically Assisted Liquid-Solid Fluidization in Normal and Microgravity Conditions: Experiment and Theory, Powder Technology 148, 80-91, 2004.
  22. ^ Atwater, J.E., and Akse, J.R., Cobalt – Poly(amido amine) Superparamagnetic Nanocomposites, Materials Letters 62, 3131-3134, 2008.
  23. ^ Atwater, J.E., Complex Dielectric Permittivities of the Ag2O – Ag2CO3 System at Microwave Frequencies and Temperatures between 22*C and 189*C, Applied Physics A 75, 555-558, 2002.
  24. ^ Atwater, J.E., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Complex Permittivities and Dielectric Relaxation of Granular Activated Carbons at Microwave Frequencies between 0.2 and 26 GHz, Carbon 41(9), 1801–1807, 2003.
  25. ^ Atwater, J.E., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Temperature Dependent Complex Permittivities of Graphitized Carbon Blacks at Microwave Frequencies Between 0.2 and 26 GHz, Journal of Materials Science 39(1), 151-157, 2004.
  26. ^ Atwater, J.E., and Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Microwave Permittivity and Dielectric Relaxation of a High Surface Area Activated Carbon, Applied Physics A 79, 125-129, 2004.
  27. ^ Atwater, J.E., Wheeler, R.R., Jr., Hadley, N.M., Dahl, R.W., and Carrasquillo, R.L., Hydrogen Recovery by Methane Decomposition in a Microwave Plasma Reactor, SAE International Journal of Aerospace 1, 337-346, 2009.