Chris Voell Frederick, Maryland Eastern Sales Manager BioCNG, LLC

What education are you bringing with you to this position?
I have my associate's degree in forestry from Paul Smiths College in New York and my bachelor of science degree from the University of Maryland.

Please describe your agricultural background.
For the five years prior to joining BioCNG, I was national program manager for the EPA AgSTAR program, where I worked closely with the livestock sector (especially dairy) to advance the capture and use of biogas from manure and other organic waste streams, including advancing digester systems across the U.S.

The two organizations I worked most closely with to accomplish this were USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. I worked directly with dairy producers, state agencies, universities and others involved in the livestock and ag sectors.

What territory will you cover?
The East Coast


What are your new responsibilities?
My primary role will be helping to advance a system (BioCNG) that takes small flows of biogas (50-200 cfm) from landfills and digesters (manure, food wastes, etc.) and cleans and upgrades it into compressed natural gas (CNG) for vehicle fuel.

I will be helping to grow Cornerstone Environmental’s (parent company to BioCNG) services in the growing organics management sector: digesters, source-separated organics facilities, composting, transfer facilities, etc.

Lastly, I will be working to craft national and state policies aimed at allowing for increased biogas use and the transformation of the nation’s transportation fleets towards alternate fuels.

What previous positions have you held?
I have more than twenty five years in the biogas, waste management and renewable energy fields. I was national program manager for EPA AgSTAR; program manager for EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program; director of technical services for the Solid Waste Association of North America; and executive director of the American Discovery Trail.

What excites you most about working in your new role?
In my opinion, transforming methane (biogas) into vehicle fuel is the highest and best use for this often wasted resource.

Being able to offset diesel and gasoline with CNG not only provides a strong economic boost (25-50 percent of diesel/gasoline cost) to the vehicle owners, but a great environmental one as well (90 percent less carbon footprint, less air pollutants, less noise).

How will you be of help to dairy producers in your new role?
Most dairy digester systems are not feasible due to low prices paid for energy produced, whether electricity or natural gas. The feasible production of CNG for vehicle fleets will help open doors for the growth of the dairy digester sector. Instead of fighting low electricity and natural gas prices, offsetting fleet vehicle costs may allow for these to be more viable.

I think the production of vehicle fuel may also allow for the better engagement of the entire liquid milk chain as they see the value in the potential direct use of the CNG in hauling and processing applications, and in the renewable fuel and GHG credits that will arise.

Why did you choose this company?
I have known many of the principals in Cornerstone Environmental for 20-plus years. They are incredibly competent and reliable environmental professionals. I had been following the growth of BioCNG for the past eight years or so and was excited to see it come to fruition.

When they approached me with this opportunity, I thought it fit my background perfectly. While I had enjoyed my previous 10 years at EPA, I was eager to join Cornerstone to help build this business as I truly believe it can help make America stronger both financially and environmentally.

What goals would you like to accomplish while in this position?
I would like to help make the U.S. truly more energy independent by converting fleet vehicles in this country from fossil fuels to CNG. A lot of people talk about energy security and independence – reducing our dependence on foreign petroleum is the way to accomplish this.

I would like to see dozens and eventually hundreds of BioCNG systems operating around the U.S. at digesters, fueling everything from farm equipment and vehicles, to sheriffs' fleets (which we already do in Louisiana) and garbage trucks.

I hope that these systems can help, for example, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to meet its goal of 1,300 digester systems by 2020, by providing a feasible alternative for use of digester biogas.

We’ve been dependent on foreign oil – to the tune of about $1 billion dollars a day – for too long. I hope to help break that cycle. PD