The International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science:
Biomass & Municipal Solid Waste to RNG, Biofuels & Chemicals

September 10–12, 2024 | Westin Hotel, Itasca, IL

Conference Speakers

Conference tracks in 2022 center around thermochemical conversion of biomass and municipal solid waste (MSW) to renewable gas (RNG), liquid fuels, and chemicals with speakers selected by peer review.

Conference Chair

Vann Bush Vice President, Research Operations, GTI

Vann Bush has over 40 years of experience in energy technology development and demonstration. For a number of years he supported the USDOE as a facilitator for the IEA Bioenergy Task 33 on Biomass Gasification. He has overseen GTI’s bench-, pilot-, and commercial-scale energy supply and conversion projects, such as its hydropyrolysis and gasification-based biofuels processes, and CO2 capture and utilization technologies. He now supports on a part-time basis GTI’s ongoing strategic efforts for low-carbon energy and chemicals production, and serves on the Board of Directors of SunGas Renewables Incorporated.

Vann has undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Physics from the University of North Alabama, and an M.S. in Physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Robert M. Baldwin Principal Scientist, Bioenergy & Science Technology Directorate, NREL

Mr. Baldwin holds the BS and MS in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University and the PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He joined NREL in February 2008 as principal scientist in the National Bioenergy Center, thermochemical research section. His areas of responsibility in the thermochemical group include fundamental and applied studies for biomass gasification, biomass pyrolysis, and thermal and catalytic upgrading and conversion of bio-liquids and gases to fuels and bio-based products. Bob also serves as the program development coordinator for the BioEnergy Science and Technology Directorate.

Prior to starting at NREL, Bob was a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines for 30 years (1975 to 2004). In 2005, he was named Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering by the Colorado School of Mines. Bob is a founder of the Petroleum Institute (PI) in Abu Dhabi (a sister school of the Colorado School of Mines) and spent five years as professor and program director in chemical engineering at the PI before joining NREL. More recently, Bob spent another two years on assignment from NREL at Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi. His research interests include fuels science, catalysis, biomass gasification and liquefaction, reaction engineering, and molecular simulation. Bob has more than 150 publications and holds two patents.

Kyriakos Maniatis, PhD Principal Administrator in the Directorate General for Energy, European Commission (recently retired)

Mr. Maniatis worked under various functions in the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission (DG ENER) from 1988 up to his retirement as Principal Administrator in April 2020. He was responsible for innovation and technical issues related to biomass, bioenergy, and biofuels. He managed the DG ENER demonstration component under the various Framework Programs of the Commission specialising in advanced biofuels. He regularly contributed to the legislative actions of the Commission regarding bioenergy and biofuels such as well as to several other related actions initiated by the Commission. Kyriakos led the Commission’s standardisation initiatives for liquid and gaseous biofuels. He also was the low carbon fuels industry interlocutor for DG ENER. In this role Kyriakos undertook several initiatives in close coordination with the industry for the market deployment of advanced biofuels, including setting up the European Biofuels FlightPath in Aviation in 2011 and the Alternative Renewable Transport Fuels Forum (ART Fuels Forum) in 2017. He also led the work of the Sub-Group on Advanced Biofuels (SGAB) of the Sustainable Transport Forum.

Kyriakos also represented the EC in the Executive Committee of IEA Bioenergy TCP up to his retirement and served as the ExCo Chairman in 2002 and from 2005 to 2007. He regularly organised workshops and conferences on these subjects, such as the International Conference on Lignocellulosic Ethanol and the EU-India Conference on advanced biofuels. He also Co-Chairs the tcbiomass conference organised by the Institute of Gas Technology in Chicago. As of 2014 Kyriakos has been the Industry Coordinator in the annual EU Biomass Conference and Exhibition. Since his retirement Kyriakos acts as an independent international consultant.

Keynote Speaker

Amy Malaki Director of Partnerships and Policy, SkyNRG

Amy Malaki is the Director of Partnerships and Policy at SkyNRG, a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel production and supply. Amy’s career has been focused on climate change, energy and sustainability in the private and non-profit sectors with particular expertise in the transportation sector. Prior to SkyNRG, Amy was the Associate Director for the transportation portfolio at the ClimateWorks Foundation where she developed philanthropic investment strategies to advance a sustainable, equitable and low-carbon mobility system including development of the international aviation decarbonization strategy. Before that she focused on Asia business development at Better Place, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle network startup. She has a B.A. in Chinese and a B.A in China studies from the University of Washington and an M.A. in international policy studies (energy and environment) from Stanford University.

Darren Cross VP Marketing & Customer Operations, Shell Catalyst & Technologies

Darren Cross was born and raised in Canada but has lived in Houston for the past 20 years after moving from Calgary. As of 2013, he is a dual citizen (USA and Canada). Cross has been with Shell for 31 years – starting with Shell Canada (Calgary-based) and working across several finance, sales, and marketing roles until 2001 when he left Shell to start up a retail energy company for Enron. In 2002, after the demise of Enron in late 2001, he moved to Houston with Shell Energy (retail energy company that sold natural gas and electricity in Ohio and Georgia). In 2005, Cross moved to Shell’s Global Commercial business (Lubricants) where he worked in several Global and local Marketing roles until 2018 when he moved to his current role in Shell Catalyst & Technologies. In this role he is responsible for areas including business strategy development, sector/application strategies, marketing/communications, and business operations. Cross has been happily married for 30 years to his wife Lynn; they have two sons (Eric, 25 and Ryan, 23).

Jennifer Holmgren CEO, LanzaTech

Dr. Jennifer Holmgren is CEO of LanzaTech. Prior to LanzaTech, she was VP and General Manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company. She was one of the key drivers of UOP’s leadership in low carbon aviation biofuels, and under her management, UOP technology became instrumental in producing nearly all the initial fuels used by commercial airlines and the military for testing and certification of alternative aviation fuel. Jennifer is also the Director and Chair of the LanzaJet Board of Directors.

Dr. Holmgren is the author or co-author of 50 US patents and more than 30 scientific publications and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 2003, she was the first woman awarded the Malcolm E. Pruitt Award from the Council for Chemical Research (CCR). In 2010, she was the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Civil Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) for her work in establishing the technical and commercial viability of sustainable aviation biofuels. In 2015 Dr. Holmgren and her team at LanzaTech were awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Presidential Green Chemistry Award and she was awarded the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology.

She is on the Governing Council for the Bio Energy Research Institute in India. The institute has been set up by the DBT (Department of Biotechnology, Indian Government) and IOC (Indian Oil Corporation). She is also on the Advisory Council for the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University.

Dr. Holmgren holds a B.Sc. degree from Harvey Mudd College, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She also has an honorary doctorate from Delft University of Technology.

Valerie Sarisky-Reed Director of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

Dr. Valerie Sarisky-Reed is the director of the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). In this role, she manages efforts to improve performance, lower costs, and accelerate market entry of bioenergy technologies. She assists in overseeing strategic planning to meet aggressive goals covered by the BETO research and development budget of approximately $250M annually, working with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) national laboratories, academia, and industry.

Dr. Sarisky-Reed has more than 28 years of experience in addressing energy and environmental issues faced by the United States and globally. In addition to her programmatic activities, she is a founding member of the Metabolic Engineering Working Group, chartered by the Biotechnology Research Subcommittee, an inter-agency coordinating committee under the Office of Science and Technology Policy. She also spent two years serving the chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, helping to build bridges between DOE and U.S. Department of Agriculture in support of the bioeconomy.


Mike Rutkowski   (Moderator) Senior Vice President, GTI Research & Technology Development - GTI

Mike Rutkowski oversees GTI’s Research & Technology Development team, advancing early-stage energy technologies to commercial solutions for the energy system’s greatest challenges. This includes research, development, and demonstration of technologies needed to decarbonize our integrated energy system in an affordable and resilient manner while meeting a diverse set of customer energy needs, spanning the energy value chain from low-carbon energy supply, conversion, storage/delivery, to energy end use at every phase of the technology development cycle.

Mike also serves as Co-Executive Sponsor of the Low Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI), GTI’s partnership with EPRI to advance low carbon technologies such as hydrogen, biofuels, synthetic fuels, and ammonia to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 2050.

Prior to GTI, Mike began his 30+ year energy career as a field engineer with GE, and then moved into management consulting working with energy & utility companies on energy technology, regulation, and business strategy issues.

Mike earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois and is a Professional Engineer in Illinois. He also earned an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Rik Brouwer GHG and Market Analyst, SkyNRG

Rik is GHG and Market Analyst at SkyNRG. SkyNRG is a global pioneer in sustainable aviation fuels and focuses on developing sustainable aviation fuel production capacity throughout North America and Europe. Rik has a MSc in Biochemical Engineering and a MSc in Communication Design for Innovation. In his current role at SkyNRG he is involved in developing thought leadership on trends in the global SAF market. He has been critical in building SkyNRG’s market outlook reports, creating a fundamental understanding of the technologies and feedstock strategies needed for the SAF market to mature up until 2050. Furthermore, he has been involved in creating a better understanding of the implications of the non-CO2 emissions of aviation and SAF in particular. Lastly, Rik contributes to engaging and activating corporates to fly on SAF themselves through SkyNRG’s corporate programmes.

Steve Csonka Executive Director, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI)

Steve Csonka is the Executive Director of CAAFI, an industry partnership fostering the development and
commercialization of sustainable alternative jet fuels (SAJF). Steve is a commercial aviation professional with 33 years of broad, strategic airline and aviation OEM experience. He continues to serve in leadership, steering committee, consultancy, and BOD roles with multiple aviation industry organizations in areas of applying technology and business concepts to enable environmental progression with SAJF.

Jacob Hjerrild Zeuthen Senior Future Fuels Manager, Maersk Decarbonisation, Future Fuels, A.P. Møller - Maersk A/S

Jacob Hjerrild Zeuthen has 18 years’ experience in technology development since he graduated as a chemical engineer from the Technical University of Denmark. He holds a PhD in Combustion and Aerosol Science and has worked with energy, combustion, fuels, emissions, and biomass and related topics. After a career with product- and process development in private companies, Jacob served as Chief Technology Advisor for the Danish Government for three years before he joined A.P. Moller – Maersk in August 2021 as a Senior Future Fuels Manager.

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