The Top 100 People in Bioenergy – #61 – #80

October 15, 2010 |

Here are some biographical and voting notes on those who are holding down positions #61 – #80 in our Top 100 People in Bioenergy rankings for 2010, and links to the complete rankings and notes for other honorees.

The Top 100 People in Bioenergy, the complete list
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #1 – #20
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #21 – #40
The Top 100 People in Bioenergy: bios, voting notes on #41 – #60

61. Robert Brown, PhD, Professor,  Iowa State University

That one of the most comprehensive and compelling biofuels research centers is based in Iowa is not entirely surprising, but its still an impressive array of research on both first- and second-generation biofuels. Recently, Robert Brown was organizer of a well-received international conference on pyrolysis and other thermal and catalytic approaches to bioprocessing, and the wide priase heard there is reflected also in the heavy voting for Brown in this year’s poll, where he placed among the top academics in the field.

62. Kristina Burow, Partner, ARCH Venture Partners / Bob Nelsen

The financial architects behind Sapphire Energy, they are also very much at the heart of the concept of solving, as they put it, “something really big and compelling” in the energy equation, and for that reason they put Sapphire together, and are backing it as it sticks to its premise of solving the fuel problem, rather than in branching off into the softer problems of base or intermediate chemicals. Both are active investors with impressive portfolios across clean tech, but its the intensity of the effort behind and around Sapphire that has drawn attention from voters and the industry.

63. Ganesh Kishore, PhD, CEO, Malaysian Life Sciences Fund

One of the “network nodes” in the biotech space – owing to his tenure at Monsanto and Dupont as well as in the Burrill family of funds, “Kish” Kishore has his own and significant following, and so for that reason we separated him out in the balloting from a cadre of Burrill VC who landed positions in the top 100. Heading the Malasian Life Sciences fund, his signature investment is Gevo, as the biobutanol pioneer heads for its IPO.

64. Stephen Mayfield, PhD, Professor,  UCSD

Profiled by Will Thurmond earlier this week in the look at San Diego-based advanced biofuels, Mayfield has been another of those in the Sapphire Energy web as well as running a hub of algal biofuel research at UCSD.

65. John McCarthy, CEO, Qteros / Kevin Gray, CTO Qteros

Two refugees from Verenium, John McCarthy and CTO Kevin Gray, both picked up strong votes from readers in this year’s poll, and we’ve paired them at #65. We suspect they might have polled even higher if their tenure at Qteros was not so relatively new. As we wrote in “25 people worth knowing in bioenergy”: “If you happen to be in the market for a consolidated bioprocessing, ethanol-producing microbe, and your company is not named Mascoma, John’s your guy. Interesting microbe always, the company has been very much more on the move this year. But John’s worth knowing even if you’re making biodiesel in a blender – his background at Verenium running the BP deal gives him a unique, valuable perspective on commercialization, partnering with giants, life as a public company, and the glories of the Celunol-Diversa merger. Besides, he’s another of the Righteously Astutes on policy, and has been a go-to guy for “what needs to get done” on the the DC front, as well as in the lab and board room.”

66. Javier Salgado, CEO, Abengoa Bioenergy

One of the top rated CEOs based outside the US, Salgado has been building not only an advanced biofuels platform in their cellulosic ethanol project in Kansas – they also own and operate a formidable set of first-generation assets in Europe.

67. Fred Cannon, PhD, CEO, KiOR

Anyone who gets US presidential hopeful and climate-skeptic Haley Barbour to call a special session of the Mississippi legislature to ram through $50 million in support for a new biofuels technology knows a thing or two about making things happen. That’s precisely what Fred Cannon and KiOR have accomplished, practically before getting out of the lab. Their pyrolysis technology is emerging, but their ability to get attention, has gotten attention.

68. Bill Glover, MD, Environmental Strategy Boeing

Whether made from jatropha, algae, soybeans, coconut oil or camelina, Bill Glover and his colleagues at Boeing have been figuring out ways to put a wide assortment of renewable fuels into Boeing jets, certify them, and assemble the partnerships necessary to build the supply chain. Most prominently associated with the development of algal aviation fuels through Boeing’s active membership in the Algal Biomass Organization, he’s been less visible though just as active in the development of camelina-based jet fuels and utilizing other feedstocks.

69. Tom Baruch, CEO, CMEA

As we wrote in “25 people worth knowing in bioenergy”:  “In addition to being one of the most experienced VC in the country – and that’s saying something – Tom has been an integral part – as  Codexis chairman – of the first successful bioenergy IPO in several years. How they got it done, and Yom’s views on the state of play in advanced bioenergy as it moves from demo stage towards the large capital calls that are required in the commercialization stage…well, for sure I will be sitting in the audience furiously taking notes.”

70. Heather Brodie, CEO, Biofuels Association of Australia

If you’ve noted the aggressive growth of bioenergy activity in Australia – whether it is developing algal-based fuels and chemicals, advanced sugarcane based ethanol and diesel, or ethanol from municipal solid waste, BAofA has been one of the most successful trade organizations around the globe in helping to create the public-private partnerships that drive renewable fuels. Also, a good communicator in terms of driving interest in Australia among project developers and technologies.

71. David Aldous, CEO, Range Fuels

Range Fuels has been practically back in stealth mode in 2009-10, focused less on proseletyzing for renewable fuels and more on delivering at its Soperton, Georgia facility. The good news – Range is up and running at a 4 Mgy demonstration level, now transitioning from methanol over to ethanol. In terms of gasification-based advanced biofuels, it has seized and now held first-mover advantage, and with its focus on wood-based biofuels will find itself with some additional advantages in building on existing infrastructure for assembling feedstock. Delivering the Range project in these nefarious economic times has been no small achievement for Aldous, even though the company has been disinclined to crow about it.

72. Jim Imbler, CEO, ZeaChem

As we wrote in “25 people worth knowing in bioenergy”: “Jim’s been one of the most accessible CEOs in cellulosic ethanol, always available for a quote. More importantly, you can go to school on his knowledge of refining operations, and I have availed myself of the opportunity from time to time. I asked Jim to speak this time not only because he’s a good storyteller, but because ZeaChem was fuels and chemicals before everyone went for co-products, had a low-cost approach before “capital light” was all the rage, and has an excellent analysis of the chems markets and the process of achieving scale-up while staying solvent.”

73. Bryan Willson, CTO Solix / Doug Henson CEO

We’ve paired the two key players at Solix at #73 – one of the most highly-rated duos in the algal fuels and chemicals race, and certainly #1 among those developing a closed-bioreactor system on an own-and-operate basis. Amidst all the ups-and-downs of developing an entire algal fuels supply and processing chain, they managed to hit the milestones that keep their project funded and moving, and are developing in partnership with the Ute indian tribe in southwestern Utah. Brilliant step, utilizing tribal access to capital, land and water while providing opportunities for economic diversification to the tribes.

74. Bill Brady, CEO, Mascoma

Bill Brady is relatively new to Mascoma, but he’s been busy for sure. As he told the Digest recently, “We’ve been at it for months. When I first arrived at Mascoma in January, I looked at the companies in the space, and saw some really impressive technologies. But it was too fragmented for the task at hand. I felt that for biofuels companies to succeed, we had to start putting technologies together, into larger more formidable companies.” Since then he pulled off the acquisition of SunOpta’s biofuels unit, which specializes in pretreatment. About advanced biofuels, he says simply: “The world doesn’t really change unless someone unlocks the potential of cellulose. That means changing the recalcitrance. In the end, cellulose has to be at or below the cost of processing corn.”

75. Bill Lese, MD, Braemar Energy Ventures

A veteran VC with 20+ years in the energy and environmental businesses, the co-founder of Braemar is an investor in a widerange of the the hottest companies in bioenergy. He currently serves on the board of directors of OPX Biotechnologies, and Solazyme, and as a board observer for Enerkem, and previously invested in signature cleantech companies like Verenium and Enernoc. Before Braemar, he was investing in emerging technologies for converting industrial waste streams into value-added products. For sure, one of the go-to nodes in cleantech investment.

76. Rick Wilson, CEO, Cobalt Technologies

As we wrote in “25 people worth knowing in bioenergy”: “Although Rick generally presents on the technology and commercial timelines for Cobalt, in a side conversation he’s worth flagging down just to learn what he knows about hedging out upstream feedstock risk in bioenergy development. This biobutanol early-stage company has been in our “50 Hottest Companies” for two years running, and yet I have always considered them a vastly underrated company – overall, biobutanol as a whole has been more overlooked than understood. In this case, we have an opportunity to look at the renewable chemicals side of the equation, with Cobalt focused on a smaller-scale early commercialization focused on high value chems.”

77. Matti Lievonen, CEO, Neste Oil

Neste, like other companies developing renewable diesel solutions, has been getting less attention from the industry than it certainly merits. Their projects are huge, getting done off the balance sheet of a major oil player, and are in the “here and now” as opposed to the 2020s and 2030s. Just this month, the company is pivoting from its massive Jurong Island project in Singapore and moving towards a renewable diesel project in Finland.

78. Pramod Chaudhari, Chairman, Praj Industries

The #1 figure in the Indian subcontinent is Praj Industries chairman and founder Pramod Chaudhari. As we s=wrote last year, “Pramodh Chaudhari gives a crystal clear analysis of  the sugar/molasses problems India has experienced recently and the two regulatory steps necessary to fulfill the E20 mandate. He also gives a very interesting description of how Praj solved the ethanol wastewater problem, and of the environmental education, conservation and outreach programs the company is running for its own employees, schools and its home city of Pune.”

79. Jack Oswald, CEO, SynGest

As we wrote in “25 people worth knowing in bioenergy”: “In addition to running a remarkable project proposing to process renewable biomass into ammonia – thereby replacing one of the most costly fossil-based inputs from the bioenergy value chain – Jack has contributed broad industry visions several times this year to the Digest. His thoughts on the importance of aiming for “energy abundance” as opposed to simply meeting the projected needs of the future, are a conference unto themselves, and his “cornucopia” model for meeting energy and feedstock needs of the future is perhaps the most significant vision laid down in the past 3 years by someone who is in the actual business of developing energy projects.”

80. Bill Hagy, Director, USDA Director of Alternate Energy Policy / Dallas Tonsager, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development

At #80, we paired both Bill Hagy and Dallas Tonsager, who polled strongly in the write-in ballots – and likely would have secured a higher slot if better known among international voters. As we wrote on Bill Hagy’s prospective address at Advanced Biofuels Markets next month:  “As director of the USDA’s bioenergy policy team, I can think of a boatload of reasons why every person in the industry should take notes on his views of the path forward. But also, we have the USDA bioenergy roadmap just out this summer, and this is one of the first opportunities the industry will have to interact at the high-level with USDA on the practical aspects of converting that vision into practical rural development.”

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