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Speaker Biographies

Pellet Stove Design Challenge 2016 Speaker Biographies

John Ackerly: The Wood Stove Design Challenge is the brainchild of John Ackerly, and he was the principal organizer of the 2013 and 2014 Stove Challenge. He founded the Alliance for Green Heat in 2009 as a consumer advocacy organization for cleaner and more efficient wood and pellet heating, believing that biomass heating is a vital renewable energy source to reduce the effects of fossil fuels. He earned a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD at the Washington College of Law and practiced civil rights law before heading up an international human rights organization where he opened branch offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin. John serves on several boards of directors, including the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the Advisory Board of the Maryland Clean Energy Center. He lives in Takoma Park Maryland.

Ray Albrecht: Ray Albrecht is a consulting engineer in the field of renewable fuels and combustion.  Ray provides engineering services to US and European manufacturers of solid biomass-fired, combustion systems for product development, emissions testing and compliance with USEPA and State environmental regulations.   He also serves as a technical consultant to the Biomass Thermal Energy Council.  Ray has Bachelor of Science (Engineering) and Master of Science (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics) degrees from Cornell University.  Ray has been a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) since 1980 and is Past Chairman of ASHRAE Technical Committee 6.10 (Fuels and Combustion) and also a longstanding member of ASHRAE Standard Committee 155 (Efficiency Testing of Commercial Boilers.)  He was a recipient of the ASHRAE 2015 Distinguished Service Award.  Ray is a licensed professional engineer in New York State.

David Atkins: Dave is a "Sustainabilist", a Forester and Forest Ecologist by training and practice; he retired from the U.S. Forest Service in 2014 after 38 years. As a sustainabilist, his passion is to bring together the social, environmental and economic elements needed to create a sustainable society. He got a B.S. in Forest Science at Humboldt State. He had various positions working for National Forests in Oregon and Montana accomplishing reforestation, forest improvement, writing silvicultural prescriptions and timber sale planning and implementation. He also had experiences with Wild and Scenic River assessments, Off-Highway-Vehicle management for multiple states and invasive species management. In mid-career he got a M.S. degree at the University of Montana with a thesis on the definition of Old Growth Forests in the northern Rocky Mountains. The second half of his career was in the State and Private Forestry branch of the Forest Service. He managed the Forest Health Monitoring Program for a 5 state area. He developed and managed the Fuels for Schools Initiative starting in 2001, which used waste trees and parts of trees to produce wood energy; initially at schools and then at a wide variety of facilities including hospitals, colleges, ski resorts, prisons, etc. He finished his career in the Forest Service national office working with the office of the Secretary of Agriculture and multiple USDA agencies, DOE, EPA and nongovernmental partner organizations and the private sector managing the Wood to Energy program (based on the Fuels for Schools model) and initiating the Wood Innovations effort. Wood Innovations includes efforts to expand the use of mass timber products in commercial mid and high-rise buildings. The mass timber products store carbon, while also reducing the fossil energy and carbon needed to build these structures. In retirement he is continuing to pursue his passion of creating a more sustainable society.

Adam Baumgart-Getz: I am the Group Leader for EPA's Innovative Programs and Outreach Group (IPOG). My professional involvement with wood smoke began in February of 2015 with the signing of the Residential Wood Heater (RWH) New Source performance Standard (NSPS). In addition to the RWH NSPS, IPOG has the Burn Wise program to communicate issues related to wood smoke, as well as promoting woodstove changeouts. The Air Quality Flag Program is an IPOG team that communicates air quality to school and communities, and helps citizens understand what type of outdoor activities are appropriate for a given air quality. Additionally, IPOG is responsible for running The Air Pollution training Institute (APTI), which provides trainings to state, tribal, and local governments on implementing air regulations.

Ben Bell Walker: Ben Bell-Walker is the Technical Affairs Manager for the Biomass Thermal Energy Council. He manages BTEC’s codes and standards activities as well as providing assistance on regulatory issues and facilitating BTEC’s member working groups on technical topics such as boiler efficiency, combined heat and power, and biomass fuel storage and handling. Previous to his time at BTEC he worked in the field of industrial controls. He holds a Master’s degree in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering from Boston University and an undergraduate degree from Houghton College and recently gained his LEED Green Associate certification.





René Bindig: Mr. René Bindig (born in 1983) completed his studies of Chemistry with a Master of Science degree (M.Sc.) at the Universtity of Leipzig in 2009. Afterwards he worked as a scientific researcher at the University (in 2010). Since 2011 he has been working in the research staff of the Department for Biomass Combustion at the German Biomass Research Centre (DBFZ Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum GmbH) and is involved in different projects dealing in emission reduction of biomass combustion systems. Together with two other colleagues, he founded the ETE GmbH in 2014, the first spin-off from DBFZ.


Tom Butcher: Dr. Butcher received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1987. He is a Research Engineer at the Senior Scientist level and Head of the Energy Conversion Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. His long-standing research interests include advanced concepts for building heating and cooling and the application of conventional and biofuels in stationary combustion applications. He has been a part-time lecturer at Stony Brook University since 2008 and acts as a mentor at BNL in programs for visiting engineering students.

Ricardo Carvalho: Ricardo Carvalho is a PhD candidate at the Aalborg University and a consultant at the Danish Building Research Institute. His work entails the development of testing methods to assess the real-life performance of wood-log and pellet combustion for heating and cooking in households of Western Europe and South America, through his participation in research projects in different EU countries, Norway and Brazil. He holds a MSc. in Sustainable Energy Systems and a BSc. in Environmental Engineering from Aveiro University, Portugal.


Marc Cohen: Marc has served over 20 years as an Environmental Engineer with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection ("MassDEP").   Marc is the Biomass program technical lead for the past 5 years for permitting and other associated regulatory initiatives. In that time Marc has developed Low Emissions criteria for biomass boilers/hydronic heaters and wood stoves for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Marc has developed and implemented monitoring protocols for demonstrating compliance with these Biomass Environmental programs.  He is the program and technical lead for the Wood fired Hydronic Heater regulatory program in MA. Marc has coordinated the review of permits in the 4 regional MA offices for biomass projects that require Best Available Control Technology (BACT) determinations for emission standards.

Stephen J. Faehner: American Wood Fibers was founded in 1966 by Frank Faehner. AWF owns & operates 10 facilities in the USA with 465 employees and over $100M annual turnover. Stephen took over as President & CEO in 2014. The markets AWF serves include: pet & livestock bedding; wood fuels for thermal energy; and natural fibers for industry. He currently serves as Chairman of the Pellet Fuels Institute. For the past 20 years Stephen’s role at AWF has included operations manager, director of business development, and vice president of sales. Over that time he has worked directly with large customers, directed multi-million dollar acquisitions, and was instrumental in leading AWF into the wood pellet business. He has presented papers at several industry conferences both domestically and internationally. Stephen resides in Maryland with his wife Hollie and sons Owen, Jack and Sam. His hobbies include family trips, golf, water and snow skiing, coaching youth sports, and of course – sawdust!

Andrea R. Ferro, Ph.D. , P.E.: Andrea Ferro is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. Her technical expertise is focused on indoor air quality and human exposure to particulate pollutants. She has also worked in the private industry, engineering consulting and non-profit sectors. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in environmental engineering from Stanford University.  The overall goal of Prof. Ferro's work is to improve human health by improving air quality through source control, ventilation and purification strategies, education, and regulatory policy.  One of her current projects is to assess exposure and predict residential exposure from wood burning appliances in Rochester, NY. Prof. Ferro has published numerous journal articles, conference papers, reports and other articles on indoor air topics.  She has delivered over 150 invited talks and conference presentations. Prof. Ferro serves or has served on the Board of Directors for the International Society of Indoor Air and Climate (ISIAQ), the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR), and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP).

Ryan Fisher: Ryan Fisher is a fire protection engineer and the founder and COO of MF Fire. Fisher has a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland. From rural Maryland, Fisher grew up with wood heat. Designing the Mulciber to master clean wood heating is working torevolutionizesustainable living. Commercialization of the Mulciber is the top priority of MF Fire.



Patricia Mason Fritz: Patricia Mason Fritz, is a Research Scientist with the Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment in the Center for Environmental Health. Her research activities involve exposure assessment and toxicological risk assessment of chemical and biological contaminants in school, residential, community and occupational settings. Her work encompasses criteria and hazardous air pollutants, aerosols, aerobiology, asthma, indoor air quality, nanotechnology, mercury, and alternative energy. She responds to public inquiries about health effects from chemical and biological pollution, has developed and provided training on health effects of air pollutants, smoke, nanoparticles and mercury, and has participated in multi-agency evaluations of environmental sampling data collected following industrial accidents, natural disasters and following the World Trade Center attacks. She has been a contributing scientist, principal investigator and co-author on research efforts related to pharmaceutical development, air pollution, mercury pollution, and asthma. Pat holds degrees from Syracuse University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Lance Grace: Lance Grace graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Sciences. He spent the next 20 years in the USAF and 7 years after retirement, flying high performance jets as an instructor pilot, fighter pilot and test pilot. Through the years, he flew more than 50 types of military airplanes, primarily the F-4, F-15, F-15E, F-16, A-7 and T-38. After retiring from the USAF, Lance spent a couple years as the Executive Director for what is now Spaceport America where he helped develop the original business plan for the country’s first inland commercial spaceport and represented New Mexico during the X-33 source selection. Lance then became part owner of Temeku Technologies, a defense contractor that specialized in low observables. He developed a number of passive infrared suppressors for ground combat vehicles and naval surface combatants including the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. A material he used for several projects later became the basis for forming a spin-off company for commercial applications, Clear Skies Unlimited. Lance holds several patents that deal with using catalyst coated ceramic reticulated foam to reduce particulates produced by wood burning appliances. Two years ago, he formed another company, Grace Fire LLC, to develop a passive retrofit device for older wood stoves that uses a unique array of Clear Skies reticulated foam to reduce particulates by approximately 80 per cent. The patent pending Grace Fire StoveCAT recently tied as one of the winners of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s Woodstove Challenge. Lance lives with his wife, Cathy, in Alamogordo, New Mexico where he continues to enjoy flying but now only in gliders.

Jeffery Hallowell: Jeff received his BS from Providence College and a master's degree in Theology from Bethel University. He has over 30 years of experience in the computer technology industry with companies such as Xerox, Oracle, Netscape and United Healthcare. As the former president of ClearStak for five years, Jeff has been working on pollution reduction and improving efficiency on hydronic and forced air heaters, wood boilers, pellet burners, biochar kilns and wood stoves. His experience includes the development and modification of automatic controls for each biomass system including Biomass Controls' patented Pollution Control Device and Intelligent Biofuel Controller. As an industry leader, Jeff has spoken at several industry events and in the next few month swill be speaking at the New England Society of American Foresters, the Pellet Stove Design Challenge hosted at DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory and other groups. Jeff will presenting on Combined Heat and Power in April at the 2016 International Biomass Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Currently, Jeff is working on several projects including the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Woodstove Retrofit Challenge, and developing of a processing system that provides a suitable sanitation option to meet the needs of the urban poor as part of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also the project manager for ongoing research on combined heat and power with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Transformative Technology Team.

Vance Hirst Sr (President): 59yrs old, Born in Southern Wisconsin, Vance Sr became a journeyman tool die maker and die designer with over 30 yrs experience machining , forming, welding and including stamping , steel fabrication assembly and testing, laser cutting, welding and SolidWorks product development & designing is his forte. Created Seraph Industries LLC, in 2006. He created the Genesis Series high performance pellet stoves G108 & G106, safety listed and EPA certified in 2009. Husband to Lenore 41yrs, father of two, grand dad of 14. Hobbies include leatherwork, painting, bee-keeping, pastured chickens, fishing and playing with grand kids.


Vance Hirst Jr (Vice President): 40 yrs old. Born in Southern Wisconsin, JR started working with dad when young 9yr old, grew up in the shop, janitorial / maintenance and when older ran all the machines; stamping presses, general machining , cnc machining. Studied at Rock Valley College CWI Certified Welding Inspector. Specialty in fabrication and welding; product development, assembly and testing. Also estimating, quoting and purchasing. Also helped in development of the Genesis series stoves. Husband to Mary 21yrs, father of 10+1 ; 5 boys, 5 girls (+1 more girl) on the way. Hobbies also include raising of chickens, bees, fishing and many activities with the children.

Philip Hopke: Dr. Philip K. Hopke is the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor at Clarkson University, the Director of the Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES), and the Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment (ISE). Dr. Hopke is the past Chair of EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), and has served on the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB). Professor Hopke is a Past President of the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR), and was a member of the more than a dozen National Research Council committees. He is a member of the NRC's Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State during the 2008-09 academic year. Professor Hopke received his B.S. in Chemistry from Trinity College (Hartford) and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from Princeton University. After a post-doctoral appointment at M.I.T. and four years as an assistant professor at the State University College at Fredonia, NY, Dr. Hopke joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as a professor of environmental chemistry, and subsequently came to Clarkson in 1989. On July 1, 2010, he took on the directorship of the ISE that houses Clarkson's undergraduate and graduate environmental science degree programs as well as managing its sustainability initiatives. For the past 5 years, he has been actively studying solid fuel combustion systems with an emphasis on emissions and efficiency.

Jytte Illerup: Jytte Boll Illerup has worked with environmental technology including clean combustion for more than 25 years. She is project coordinator for several large projects in the research group CHEC (Combustion and Harmful Emission Control) at the Technical University of Denmark. She is a member of the CHEC Leader group. At DCE (Danish Centre for Environment and Energy) she has been program leader for the work concerning international reporting of air emissions inventories to e.g. the UNECE Convention, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and EU, and project leader for many research projects related to air emissions from stationary combustion plants including projects concerning emissions from residential use of wood and emissions from industrial plants.

Geoffrey Johnson, Inventor and Manufacturer: Mr. Johnson's experience encompasses the automotive, cosmetic, and pellet stove industries. In the 1970's, he designed and built replacement parts for Corvette road and racing cars, then developed parts for Lotus, eventually building the "Tierra Sports Car" (TM-73422016). In 1980, Mr. Johnson turned to cosmetics, inventing and patenting the first UVA tanning products (US Patents 4,528,183 and 5,720,942). His brand names include "Tahitian Gold" (TM-73120231), "Radical Tan" and "Kona Gold" (TM-73149773). Under Radical Products, Inc. (TM-Radical tan) he designed bottling equipment to manufacture the cosmetics his companies sold throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Mr. Johnsons’ company Radical Products, Inc was instrumental in developing Radical Motorsport UK's "Radical" road and racing cars. As Firebrand Industries and Snoqualmie Stove Works, Mr. Johnson developed and manufactured firestarters (US Patent 5,296,004) and pellet stove vacuums (US Patent 5,323,760). Most recently, Mr. Johnson invented the Vesta Award-winning SNQ-1 Pellet Stove, the prototype for the Torrefire (TM- 86564439 and TM -86572252) Torrefactor Pellet Stoves (US Patent D-601,684).

Jonathan Kays: Jonathan has an M.S. Degree in Forestry from Virginia Tech, and a B.S. Degree in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University. His background includes county forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry, research assistant at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in NY, High School Earth Science teacher, and forestry technician with the U. S. Forest Service in northern Idaho. Jonathan has been with the Western Maryland Research and Education Center near Hagerstown, Maryland since 1988 as a Natural Resources Extension Specialist. He works on forest stewardship, woodland owner volunteer training, wildlife damage management for deer and voles, alternative income opportunities utilizing natural resources, and the use of biosolids to grow forest trees on gravel spoils. His interest in wood energy was sparked by a weeklong trip to Austria in June 2008 to study Austria’s progressive wood energy program. In April 2010 he organized the Maryland Wood Energy Coalition with the Maryland DNR Forest Service to bring together representative from state agencies, industry, nonprofits and others, to determine how to increase the wood energy in Maryland. This resulted in the February 2012 release of a Prospectus on Increasing Wood Energy in Maryland. Jonathan has authored numerous extension publications and books, produces a quarterly newsletter Branching Out for Maryland forest owners, and other materials that can be found on his website.

Mark Knaebe: Mark Knaebe is a Natural Resources Specialist at the USDA Forest Service Technology Marketing Unit, located at the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. His work focuses on Bioenergy. Mark tests and evaluates wood gasification systems that are used to generate electricity from wood pellets. He advises on kiln heating systems and has designed wood heating systems for residential use. Currently, he is constructing a condensing wood boiler that he designed to maintain flue gasses below 212°F so that all the energy of boiling is recaptured. Mark is a frequent speaker on the many aspects of bioenergy and the advantages of converting biomass directly to thermal energy.

Jan Kossack: Mr. Jan Kossack completed in 1989 his job training as an electrician. In 2010 he trained as a state-certified engineer for automation and energy technology. After his graduation he worked as a technician in the industry. Since 2014 he is working in the Thermo-chemical Conversation Department of the German Biomass Research Centre. His tasks are the construction and operation of pilot plants.







Gabriella McConnel: Gabriella McConnel has been the Renewable Energy Project Coordinator for the Alliance for Green Heat since August 2015. She holds a BS in Environmental, Soil, and Water Science from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she also earned a minor in Sustainability. While pursuing her degree, she undertook an additional course of study in environmental practices, and obtained the Environmental Professional Intern certification from the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice. Gabriella also interned with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, designing the GreeNWAy Initiative, a green rating system for local businesses that utilize sustainability practices. She also worked at the University of Arkansas Research and Extension Center in the Soybean Breeding department and provided technology support for the college of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences.

Craig McKim: Craig McKim is the Gas and Particle Market Manager for Testo Inc., located in Sparta, New Jersey.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and has been working with testing and test instrumentation for over 25 years. Mr. McKim began his professional career testing physical and chemical parameters in the oil and gas fields of the southwest. He then moved on to testing and evaluations associated with environmental assessments and site cleanups. For the last 17 years, Mr. McKim has been leading the Testo emissions product line in the United States and Canada. Recently, he added the particulate measurement instruments to his market portfolio product management responsibilities. Testo manufactures a wide variety of portable and stationary products that measure temperature, pressure, humidity, velocity, and the gases and particulates of combustion. Testo serves a variety of markets including: combustion and emission testing markets, HVAC contractors, pharmaceuticals and health, and industrial and food processing.

Joseph Mollendorf: Joseph Mollendorf, PhD has been a Professor at SUNY Buffalo for forty-one years where he has taught and done research in the areas of fluid thermal sciences and design. Over the years, he has enjoyed nearly continuous funding from the NSF, the US Navy and NYSERDA; has published/presented scientific articles/book chapters; advised numerous graduate students; given invited seminars; chaired national and international conference sessions; developed new courses; supervised numerous independent study project courses and won teaching and other awards. He is a Fellow of the ASME and has seven (7) US Patents. In addition to teaching and research, his current responsibilities include being the Supervisor of the Engineering Machine Shop.



Taylor Myers: Taylor Myers is a fire scientist and the founder and CTO of MF Fire. A Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering, Myers has a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland. Myers led the development of the Mulciber wood stove, winner of the Low Emissions Prize at the 2013 Wood Stove Design Challenge, the Grand Prize at the 2014 Wood Stove Design Challenge, and the Energy Efficiency Prize at the MIT Clean Energy Prize. In 2014, Myers was named a Maryland Innovator of the Year.

Ben Myren: Ben Myren has specialized in the development and testing of clean, efficient, low emission residential wood heating for more than 25 years. Based on Coleville, Washington, he runs Myren Consulting, Inc., one of the labs accredited by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct EPA wood stove certification tests. The combustion systems used in most EPA certified non catalytic stoves today are based upon scientific and engineering concepts and testing techniques developed by Myren Consulting personnel in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Ben developed the fueling protocol for the 2013 Wood Stove Decathlon and oversaw the fueling of all he stoves.

Dr. Barbara Panessa-Warren: Dr. Panessa-Warren holds undergraduate and graduate degrees (B.A.,MS,Ph.D) from New York University with training in botany, field ecology, mammalian cell biology, anatomy, and electron microscopy/ x-ray microanalysis. After graduating she was a NIH post-doctoral fellow at the NYU Medical School, Dept. of Biophysics and Physiology and joined the faculty at Stony Brook University Medical School in 1977. She was also a faculty member at St.Vincents Hospital Medical Center, NYC and taught human anatomy/physiology, pathophysiology, medical laboratory methods and medical physics. Dr. Panessa-Warren has received several prestigious awards; for instance she was the first woman to receive the Burton Medal from the Microscopy Society of America in 1981. Since 2000 Dr. Panessa-Warren has been at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, where she has worked extensively with developing new protocols to for electron microscopy to study nanoparticle structure/function and their interaction with biological systems. Recently, she has in collaboration with Dr. Tom Butcher's laboratory at BNL studied emission nanoparticles produced from wood combustion boilers and stoves, and investigated how these nanoparticles interact in vitro with human lung epithelial cells.

Lisa Rector: Lisa Rector is a Senior Policy Analyst atNESCAUM. For the past 17 years she has worked on a wide variety of technical and policy issues related to climate and air quality impacts including biomass, stationary source testing and permitting, and climate change. At NESCAUM, Lisa is the project manager for many biomass projects including the Thermal Biomass Roadmap, Elemental Composition of Wood Fuels, Comparative Emission Testing for ICI Boilers, Change-out Analysis, Modeling and public health impacts, Residential Wood Test Methods, and Wood Pellet Standards. Lisa also manages NESCAUM Committees focused on biomass, compliance and enforcement issues.

Rob Rizzo: Rob is the Renewable Thermal Program Manager for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) where he provides technical assistance on renewable heating and cooling technologies for all divisions at DOER and with initiative partners from various state agencies, municipalities, public schools, colleges and numerous other partners. Rob's current activities include assisting to write new regulations to provide Alternative Energy Credits for thermal energy and the development of new programs and initiatives and pilot programs totaling thirty four million dollars to increase the use of efficient and low emission biomass, air water and ground source heat pumps, advanced biofuels, bio gas, and solar thermal heating and cooling throughout Massachusetts. Rob is also coordinating the state's efforts to encourage the expansion of the renewable heating and cooling market share by providing financial assistance to private companies expanding into this new market.

Norbert Senf: Norbert Senf has been building masonry heaters since 1979. He joined early efforts to write codes and standards, and was a founding member of the Masonry Heater Association of North America (MHA). As the need to measure masonry heater performance and emissions became evident, he worked through MHA to develop in-house testing expertise and build a database on PM emissions performance. He hopes that the recent development of simpler testing technology will accelerate the search for the cleanest ways to burn cordwood.


Stephen Spevak: Steve Spevak, Clean Burn Solutions, is an “Inventors’ Inventor”, according to artist Gary Castell. During childhood, his curiosity was not always appreciated as he took things apart to discover how they worked. But as he matured he excelled in architectural and mechanical model making as well as drafting, which later enabled him to draft his patent drawings. Steve’s other mechanical inventions include a tool container, internationally patented by Potomac Applied Mechanics Inc. This developed into the pursuit of computer scrap gold and silver smelting and refining. In 2002 Steve authored the Kindle book Backyard Gold Refining Photo Journal, which led to the formation of the Gold Refining Forum.com, with currently over 30,000 members. In the renewable energy arena, Steve and a team from Monegon Ltd. received Special Construction/ Solar category awards in 1983 from the Washington Building Congress. Later his fervor shifted to renewable heating, with combustion experiments and smelting, along with the clean production of wood charcoal. Now Steve has developed off-grid, biomass gasification stoves, including the VibraStove™, as well as some model boilers/ furnaces. They burn very efficiently, with low emissions and low stack temperatures.

The Stony Brook Design Team (Jake Lindberg, Jinping Lin, DongNi Qui, Kevin Lee, Yunxiao Jiang, Mike McCutcheon, Jason Peng and Vladimitr Zaitsev): We are the Stony Brook Wood Stove Design team. Our group consists of undergraduate Chemical Engineering students brought together by a desire to study combustion and make an impact in the field. We began this project in January of 2015 with an application for a grant through NYSERDA under the Renewable Heat NY initiative (award No 63043). We began our research in earnest September 2015 with two goals. First, to take a dated wood stove and make it as efficient as possible and second, to use the experience we gained to create "A Next Generation Woodstove". At this point in time we are in the development and testing phase and we would like to share some of our results.

The SUNY Buffalo Team: The University at Buffalo design team has purchased and set-up a commercially available pellet stove as part of a NYSERDA funded project for the Alliance for Green Heat Pellet Stove Design Challenge. A Quadra Fire Classic Bay 1200 pellet stove was selected based on references from trusted sources. The first year of the project required the team to create an experimental setup to define the baseline emission level and combustion efficiency of the pellet stove without using any available specifications provided by the manufacturer. Therefore, by using a combination of undergraduate knowledge and engineering judgment in conjunction with the equipment selected, the team is confident in the accuracy of the experimental setup.

Rod Tinnemore: Rod is a recognized wood heating appliance expert, educator, and public speaker, who works for Washington State Department of Ecology's Air Quality Program. Washington State is recognized nationally for its sector leading, conservative approach to regulating the use of wood heating appliances. Rod works closely with federal, state and regional air quality organizations and wood heating appliance manufacturers, on compliance, emissions, and standards initiatives. Prior to Dept. of Ecology Rod was a member of the teaching faculty at Washington State University. Rod received his Master of Science in Forest Resources from the University of Idaho.



Rebecca Trojanowski: Rebecca Trojanowski received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is now currently working towards her Eng.Sc.D at Columbia University in Earth and Environmental Engineering. She is an Associate Staff Engineer in the Energy Conversion Group at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. Her interests focus primarily on technical solutions to advance building energy systems, fossil fuel reduction, and emissions. Some of her research and development areas include advanced HVAC concepts, biofuels, solid fuels, air pollution, combustion and system concepts.



Gael Ulrich: Combustion research career began with Cabot Corporation, an international manufacturer of flame-generated fine particle chemicals.  Reputation in the scientific community stems from his theory of particle formation and growth in flames developed while a researcher at Cabot and as a professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Ulrich's most widely read publication is a Special Report on Flame-Generated Fine Particles featured as the cover piece in the August 4, 1984 issue of Chemical and Engineering News. Interest coming from industrial readers prompted the formation of Ulrich Research and Consulting, Inc. where proprietary research was conducted for commercial clients.  In 1995, professor Ulrich's research interests expanded to biomass combustion resulting in one patented design and several subsequent prototypes on which his current research is focused.  He founded the BioCombustion Institute in 2014, dedicated to advancing the art, science, and technology of biomass combustion.

Marius Wöhler: Marius Wöhler graduated at the University of Forestry Sciences Rottenburg and holds a Bachelor degree in Forestry Sciences (B.Sc.) and a Master degree in Sustainability Economics and Energy Technology (M.Sc.). During his study period he did several research and development projects in the national and international wood pellet and biomass utilization industry. In the Master course Mr. Wöhler did a 6 month research period for his Master thesis at the UBC Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group in Vancouver, Canada. After graduation Marius Wöhler worked as a Junior Researcher at Bioenergy 2020+ in Austria. There he was involved in national and European research projects in the field of small-scale biomass combustion. Since October 2013 Mr. Wöhler works as a research associate at the University of Forestry Sciences Rottenburg. For his PhD he is currently working in the projects "BeReal" and "EiBA". The aim of the European project "BeReal" is the development of advanced testing methods for better real life performance of small-scale biomass heating appliances. In the national project "EiBA" smart feedstock and additive pellets are developed to enable low emission combustion.

Scott Williamson: Scott is the founder and owner of Pelletstoveservice.com, New England's largest independent service provider for all pellet and multi-fuel burning appliances. The company, though small, has loyal customer base in all 6 New England States with thousands of service calls performed each year. In a niche service market dominated by hearth supply equipment dealers and chimney sweeps, Scott's company is unique; they have a working knowledge of more than 200 different product models dating back to 1982 when the first pellet stove was invented and do not work on anything except wood pellet or other automated biomass systems.Scott is an NFI Pellet Specialist and holds a Solid Fuel Construction Supervisor license in Massachusetts. He has been a guest speaker at the Heating the Northeast conferences in Manchester, NH and Saratoga, NY, has been a guest speaker at numerous manufacturer sponsored events and seminars. In 2012 Scott also started a marketing consulting group that works with small to medium sized hearth related businesses to implement marketing and website development strategies.

Niels Wittus: Niels Wittus, president of Wittus – Fire by Design, was born and raised in Denmark and moved to New York in 1974. In 1978, he founded Wittus Inc. in order to bring beautifully wrought European hearth products with award-winning styling, superior craftsmanship, high efficiency heating, and state-of-the-art burning technology to the American marketplace. As interest in contemporary fireplaces has grown, Niels with his wife, Alyce have worked diligently to build the company that epitomizes the trend-setting design offerings in wood, pellet, and gas burning stoves and fireplaces, in addition to cook stoves, grills, and other outdoor products. Wittus - Fire by Design participated in the Stove Challenges in 2013 and 2014 and was proud to win 2nd place both times.