Brennecke, Joan Ph.D.

Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering #16

Professor Joan Brennecke

Office: EER 3.614 Mailing Address:
Phone: (512) 471-5092 University of Texas at Austin
Fax: (512) 471-1760 McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering
Email: 200 E Dean Keeton St. Stop C0400
UT Mail: C0400 Austin, Texas  78712-1589

Research Areas: Energy

Research Group Website

Research Presentation for Prospective Graduate Students

Educational Qualifications

Ph.D., University of Illinois, 1989
M.S., University of Illinois, 1987
B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin (1984)

Courses Taught



Ionic liquids, thermodynamics, gas separations, supercritical fluid technology, environmentally benign chemical processing.


Joan Brennecke’s interests are in the development of more environmentally friendly solvents and processes. Of particular interest is the use of ionic liquids and carbon dioxide for extractions, separations, and reactions.

Ionic liquids are organic salts that in their pure state are liquids at ambient temperatures. Although ionic liquids are organic solvents, they exhibit vanishingly small vapor pressures. Negligible volatility means that the most prevalent route for escape to the atmosphere and also exposure to workers – evaporation – is absent. Supercritical fluids are compounds that have been heated and pressurized above their critical temperatures and pressures. At conditions near the critical point, the density of the fluid can be varied from a gas-like to liquid-like with small changes in temperature or pressure to mimic a wide variety of solvents. Supercritical CO2 is nontoxic, nonflammable, abundant and inexpensive. Although it is a greenhouse gas, the use of CO2 in processes does not contribute to global warming since CO2 is not produced.

Although water stable ionic liquids are a relatively new class of compounds, it has been shown that they are suitable solvents for a wide variety of industrially important reactions. Professor Brennecke’s group has been investigating the phase behavior of ionic liquids and has shown that nonvolatile organic products can be separated from them without resorting to the use of traditional volatile organic solvents, as had been done previously. They have also shown that various gases have vastly different solubilities in ILs so they can be used for performing gas separations, either in a conventional absorber/stripper configuration or by using a supported liquid membrane. The overall goal of this work is to understand how the choice of anion, cation and substituents on the cation affects thermophysical properties and phase behavior. Current work focuses on the design and testing of new ionic liquids that possess particularly desirable physical property and phase behavior characteristics, necessary for important separation problems and for use as electrolytes.

Awards & Honors

  • Kavli Lecturer, ACS National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, 2014
  • E.V. Murphree Award, American Chemical Society, 2014
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering (elected 2012)
  • E.O. Lawrence Award, Department of Energy, 2009
  • Julius Steiglitz Award, American Chemical Society Chicago Section, 2008
  • J.M. Prausnitz Award, PPEPPD, 2007
  • Professional Progress Award, AIChE, 2006
  • AIChE Area 1a Keynote Address, 2002
  • Ipatieff Prize, American Chemical Society, 2001
  • College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, University of Notre Dame, 2000
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1991

 Selected Publications

  • Alfonsina E. Andreatta, Matthew P. Charnley and Joan F. Brennecke “Using Ionic Liquids to Break the Ethanol-Ethyl Acetate Azeotrope,” ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2015, 3, 3435-3444.
  • Liyuan Sun, Oscar Morales-Collazo, Han Xia and Joan F. Brennecke, “Effect of structure on transport properties (viscosity, ionic conductivity and self-diffusion coefficient) of aprotic heterocyclic anion (AHA) room temperature ionic liquids.  1. Variation of anionic species,”  J. Phys. Chem. B, 2015, 119, 15030-15039.
  • Roberto I. Canales and Joan F. Brennecke, “Liquid-Liquid Phase Split in Ionic Liquid + Toluene Mixtures Induced by CO2,” AIChE J., 61(9), 2015, 2968-2976.
  • Samuel Seo, Mauricio Quiroz-Guzman, Aruni DeSilva, Tae Bum Lee, Yong Huang, Brett F. Goodrich, William F. Schneider, and Joan F. Brennecke, “Chemically Tunable Ionic Liquids with Aprotic Heterocyclic Anions (AHAs) for CO2 Capture,” J. Phys. Chem. B, 2014, 118, 5740-5751.
  • B. Gurkan, B. F. Goodrich, E. M. Mindrup, L. E. Ficke, M. Massel, S. Seo, T. P. Senftle, H. Wu, T. W. Rosch, M. F. Glaser, J. K. Shah, E. J. Maginn, J. F. Brennecke, and W. F. Schneider, “Molecular Design of High Capacity, Low Viscosity, Chemically Tunable Ionic Liquids for CO2 Capture,” J. Phys. Chem. Let., 1(24), 2010, 3494-3499.
  • urcu E. Gurkan, Juan C. de la Fuente, Elaine M. Mindrup, Lindsay E. Ficke, Brett F. Goodrich, Erica A. Price, William F. Schneider, and Joan F. Brennecke, “Equimolar CO2 absorption by anion-functionalized ionic liquids,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 132, 2010, 2116-2117.
  • Jacob M. Crosthwaite, Mark J. Muldoon, JaNeille K. Dixon, Jessica L. Anderson, and Joan F. Brennecke, “Phase Transition and Decomposition Temperatures, Heat Capacities and Viscosities of Pyridinium Ionic Liquids,” J. Chemical Thermodynamics, 37, 2005, 559-568.
  • Jennifer L. Anthony, Jessica L. Anderson, Edward J. Maginn, and Joan F. Brennecke, “Anion Effects on Gas Solubility in Ionic Liquids,” J. Phys. Chem. B, 109(13), 2005, p. 6366-6374.
  • Aaron M. Scurto, Sudhir N. V. K. Aki, and Joan F. Brennecke, “CO2 as a Separation Switch for Ionic Liquid/Organic Mixtures,” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 124, 2002, p. 10276-10277.
  • Lynnette A. Blanchard, Dan Hancu, Eric J. Beckman and Joan F. Brennecke, “Green Processing Using Ionic Liquids and CO2,” Nature, 399, 1999, p. 28-29.
Posted on: