Who We Are

Powering a Sustainable Future

Imagine a future where renewable energy is not only feasible but also cost-competitive. With Aries Clean Energy, that future is now. We have paved the way with a wide range of sustainable technology for both municipal and commercial applications now at work in the United States. We are passionate about creating the green standard for renewable and sustainable infrastructure solutions.

A comprehensive approach to transforming the world of clean energy

Over the past decade, sustainability has moved from the fringe into the mainstream for organizations of all types. New research and enhanced technology have led to solutions that reduce the operational environmental impact while simultaneously delivering real financial value.

At the forefront of the sustainability movement is an approach that considers the environmental impact, as well as the financial implications, of waste, energy, and emissions. Lowering waste output reduces current costs, while embracing renewables to lower energy usage and mitigate emissions lowers both current costs and exposure to future risks.

Aries Clean Energy provides a multi-patented technology that can handle your waste in a turnkey gasification solution. This approach provides proven environmental benefits, while simplifying your overall waste handling process.

Our solutions also turn your waste into a fuel gas that can be used to produce electricity for a variety of thermal processes. In addition, the overall emissions from your waste are reduced, thereby supporting your organization’s emissions reduction goals.

If you are looking to take a giant leap forward in your sustainability program, Aries Clean Energy is here to help.


A Vision of Growth

Aries Clean Energy started in 2010 as PHG Energy, funded by the owners of a multi-state Caterpillar dealership to further develop a patented gasification technology already in full commercialization and proven as a viable method of cleanly converting wood waste to synthetic fuel gas for industrial use.

By 2013, the company has achieved several additional milestones using downdraft gasification, including:

  • Power Generation: Developing a system in conjunction with General Electric to power GE’s Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) generation equipment for the first time ever with biomass-produced fuel gas
  • Municipal Plant: Designing and installing its first municipal gasification facility to cleanly convert wood and biological waste to electricity
  • Cleaner Syngas: Successfully cleaning syngas in an R&D project, powering a 1 MW Caterpillar generator and selling that power back to the grid through TVA
  • Feedstock Research: Testing and collecting gasification performance data on a wide array of biomass-based materials including municipal solid waste, scrap tires, and purpose grown crops



Larger System Deployment

In 2014, we constructed and field tested the world’s largest downdraft gasifier, giving the company’s offering economies of scale to better assure positive financial returns for customers. With five times the processing throughput and fuel output capacity of earlier equipment, the new unit was a major breakthrough for both technology and market penetration.

The initial deployment of that system is now operating in the City of Lebanon, Tennessee, and converts a blend of commercial wood waste and biosolids into electric power. Click here to view a case study and ongoing results of that project.

Market Integration

In 2015, the acquisition of assets and patents from MaxWest, a fluidized bed gasification company, opened new waste disposal markets, including municipal and industrial biosolids disposal.

Investment Partner Spring Lane Capital

In January 2018, Aries announced that it has issued approximately $21.4 million of new equity led by existing investors and received additional capital commitments from Spring Lane Capital of $25 million for equity in future gasification projects. Spring Lane, a private equity firm based in Boston, focuses on project finance investments for smaller-scale solutions in the energy, water, food and waste industries. This financing marks a significant milestone for the emerging set of municipal- and industrial-scale solutions providers in the waste management industry, which has been historically challenged to access affordable financing tailored to the needs of sub-utility scale projects in the industry.


Management Team
Board of Directors


Gregory L. Bafalis

Chief Executive Officer

Greg Bafalis has more than 30 years of leadership in the clean technology and energy fields. His experience ranges from Fortune 500 Companies to starting his own private equity-backed renewable energy company in Houston, Texas, to running a Silicon Valley clean tech startup in the algae space.

With project development, construction, financing, and operations experience in 17 countries during his career, Mr. Bafalis has successfully closed over $2 billion in project financings and raised over $250 million in venture capital and private equity funding for a wide array of startup companies.

Mark N. Witt

Chief Financial Officer

Mark Witt joined the Aries Clean Energy team as CFO with 35 years of energy project and structured finance experience with major international companies as well as entrepreneurial start-ups.

He has successfully closed numerous financings for both public and private companies including four initial public offerings. He brings complimentary experience in power development and renewables as well as oil and gas exploration and production, transportation/storage and trading including KPMG, BP, Suez, Enron and Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Witt began his career as a CPA after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin.

Renus C. Kelfkens

Senior Vice President Engineering

Renus Kelfkens is an engineering professional with a demonstrated working history in the coal, natural gas and renewables conversion to liquids industry. He brings to Aries extensive career experience both in multi-national petrochemical and new technology start-up companies in the fields of process technology scale-up and commercialization, project development and execution and operations, focused on gasification.

Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Engineering at Sundrop Fuels where he led the front-end engineering design and project execution planning efforts for the demonstration plant project and Sundrop Fuels’ planned first commercial biogasoline facility. He also held the same position at GreatPoint Energy, commercializing their technology.

Over the first 25 years of his career, Mr. Kelfkens held a number of engineering and management positions within the Sasol Group of Companies in South Africa and the US. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of South Africa.

Finance and Administration

James A. LaFreniere


James A. LaFreniere has over 25 years’ experience in accounting management and consulting, serving businesses in a variety of industries. Focusing on systems management and team development, he has helped business owners build and retain successful accounting and finance departments.

His most recent roles include CFO/Controller for SMB Machinery Systems in Ball Ground, GA, and interim Controller for the McAlister’s Deli brand at Focus Brands in Atlanta.

His specialties include risk assessment, internal control processes, KPI reporting development, and internal auditing.

Mr. LaFreniere is a CPA and earned his B.S. degree in Accounting from Bradley University.

Dan O. Sjostrom

Director of Finance

Dan Sjostrom has 20 years of experience in corporate finance, accounting, mergers, and acquisitions with businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups.

Mr. Sjostrom served as the Corporate Controller and Director, FP&A with JPW Industries Inc. before joining Aries Clean Energy. At JPW, he directed all accounting, treasury, tax and financial reporting functions of this private equity owned global manufacturer.  Prior to JPW Industries, Mr. Sjostrom served as a Controller and Finance Manager for Amazon Inc. and as the CFO for software development start-up N-Torus Technologies.

Mr. Sjostrom has earned his master’s Degree in business administration from Thunderbird, The Garvin Graduate School of International Business, and his Bachelors of Science degree from Texas State University.

Shannon M. Webb

Human Resources Manager

Shannon Webb joins Aries Clean Energy with more than a decade in the human resources industry.  Her past employers have included Paychex, Driven HR, Verizon, and Bene-Care. Her educational background includes a Master’s degree from Nazareth College in Human Resources Management; a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York College at Fredonia in Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies; and a paralegal program at Hilbert College, where she was a member of the Leadership Scholar Program.

Mrs. Webb’s licenses and certifications include: Workforce Analytics – HR Certification Institute – HRCI; HR Change Management (HRCM), Management and Strategy Institute; Project Management Essentials Certification (PMEC), Management and Strategy Institute; Six Sigma Lean Professional Certification, Management and Strategy Institute; SHRM-CP; PHRA, HR Certification Institute – HRCI; and Six Sigma White Belt, Aveta Business Institute.


Brandon M. Davis

Director, Technology

Brandon Davis joins Aries Clean Energy after 23 years of energy engineering experiences with Southern Company. He started his career there as a research engineer in 1995 and progressed his way to become a principal engineer in 2012.

While at Southern Company, Mr. Davis developed a thermodynamic model of the Transport Gasifier based on an analysis of its pilot plant data. He also led a team of mechanics and operators in performing preventative maintenance and refractory integrity inspections, preparing equipment for inspection, documenting findings, recommending actions to take based on findings, and writing work orders to implement recommendations.

In addition to developing more than two dozen Process Safety Management compliant operating procedures, Mr. Davis also provided training for co-workers in the areas of gasifiers, startup burners, and syngas coolers, and he was the lead engineer for the core technology of the commercial Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle project including the gasifiers, syngas coolers, and startup burners.

Mr. Davis graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering.

Mark J. Van Geffen

Director, Engineering

Mark Van Geffen brings 25 years’ experience as a professional in the renewable energy, oil and gas, chemical processing, and refining industries to his role as Director of Design Engineering.

Mr. Van Geffen has led multiple project teams through his career through complex refinery expansions, greenfield catalyst manufacturing structure installations, process debottleneck and improvement retrofits, and Gas to Liquids pilot plant installations. All projects required “Fast Track” execution, without sacrificing cost and quality control. His experience includes support for Authorization for Expenditure (AFE) funding, HAZOP reviews, multidiscipline engineering, design and drafting, Professional Engineer certifications, mechanical and piping engineering and design, procurement, on-site construction support and project documentation closeout.

He has engineering and project management experience in domestic and international projects ranging from less than $1 million up to $100 million.  As Vice President of Facilities at Excel Midstream Solutions, Mr. Van Geffen directed projects for eight oil and gas operators over three and a half years.  Mr. Van Geffen continued to support oil and gas projects for multiple operators over the next five years, including supporting two operators as owner Project Manager.

His specialties include mentorship, discipline management, problem solving, multi-discipline coordination, prioritization, and project planning.  Mr. Van Geffen holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Professional Engineer in the States of Louisiana and Texas.

Ron L. Hudson

Director, Environmental & Permitting

Ron Hudson is an environmental compliance and permitting professional with a working history in manufacturing, petrochemical production, and gas processing.  His focus has been in operational compliance and large-scale capital construction permitting.

Mr. Hudson in his more than 20 years of experience has held number of roles as an environmental professional.  Most recently he was an environmental specialist with Williams Companies and an environmental project manager at APTIM’s Environmental Services group.  He has held roles as an environmental chemist, a North American division environmental manager in manufacturing, and permitting manager in the energy & petrochemical industry.

His specialties include project siting, air permitting, regulatory affairs, and risk assessments.   Mr. Hudson is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Health.

Mark G. Bauer

Director, Project Execution

Mark Bauer brings more than 30 years’ experience as a professional in the renewable energy, oil and gas, unconventional oil recovery, mining and power industries to his role as Director of Projects at Aries Clean Energy.

Mr. Bauer is experienced in assembling, motivating and leading multicultural teams for “Fast Track” construction and operations. His experience includes support for Project Finance, IFC, US EXIM and Private Equity as well as management of reliable, efficient, safe and cost-effective operations and maintenance of revenue producing assets. He was a founding partner in obtaining $168 million in private equity funding for the startup of Green Earth Fuels.

Mr. Bauer has direct experience implementing over $2.5 billion in new projects in international and domestic locations and clearly understands and knows how to apply the lessons learned working in culturally diverse and environmentally extreme locations.  As Director of International Engineering and Operations for the El Paso Corporation’s Global Power group, Mr. Bauer was responsible for operation of over 3,500 MW of power generation in seven different countries.

His specialties include project development and construction on international and domestic projects. In addition to Green Earth Fuels and Global Power, he has been on the team with EP Energy, Nations Energy, Southern Peru Copper Corporation, Red Leaf Resources and Chugach Electric.

Mr. Bauer holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of Alaska in Mechanical Engineering, and from Oregon State University in Biology. He is also MSHA 5000-23 certified.

Matthew R. Newman

Director, Operatons

Matthew Newman brings more than 15 years of operations, maintenance, and leadership experience to his role as Director of Operations at Aries Clean Energy.

Most recently with Mississippi Power on the Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) project, Mr. Newman was an integral part of a world class team that successfully started and operated the Kemper facility.  His career includes leadership responsibilities within chemical plant operations in both production and maintenance furthered by leadership responsibilities in gasification and power generation operations and maintenance.  Mr. Newman is an experienced leader with a diverse skill set that includes leadership in continuous improvement, process change, project and outage management, safety and training, Six Sigma, and root cause analysis among others.

Mr. Newman is a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business and Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Business Development

Christopher D. Kidd

Director, Business Development Northeast

Christopher Kidd has spent more than 24 years working in business development, finance, and operations. He has worked for companies such as Dynamic Energy, Safari Energy, SunDurance Energy, The Home Depot, and AT&T. He now joins the Aries Clean Energy team as Director Business Development Northeast.

Mr. Kidd started his business development career at SunDurance Energy as Director, Business Development. There he managed and developed projects for numerous commercial and industrial clients as well as federal government agencies including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. At Safari Energy, he served as the Vice President, Business Development where he secured over 100 MWs of projects during his tenure. He also served as the Vice President of Business Development at Dynamic Energy closing over 30 projects including projects with JPMorgan Chase, CubeSmart, and Brixmor Property Group.

He served in the U.S. Army on active duty from 1994 to 1998 and from 2005 to 2008 including a tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has been in Army Reserve since 2003 and continues to serve today where he retains the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Mr. Kidd is a graduate of the US Army Command & General Staff College and earned the coveted Ranger Tab while attending Ranger School, the Army’s most arduous and demanding leadership course.

Mr. Kidd graduated from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance. He later graduated with his MSA, Entrepreneurial Finance from Babson College.

Mark R. Lyons

Director, Business Development New England

Mr. Lyons has 30 years of experience in the renewable energy-from-waste, recycling, and environmental services industries. He has successfully managed several facility development and re-development projects involving waste-fired power plants and landfill expansions on the east coast. He has extensive business development, sales, government affairs, community relations and environmental permitting experience.

Immediately before joining Aries, he led the Central New England Division of Casella Organics, where he had P&L responsibility, managed over 350,000 tons per year of organic waste, ran the Division’s operations, and directed a staff of eight professionals. During his tenure, Mr. Lyons and his team grew Division revenues by 40% and consistently exceeded the company’s annual growth targets.

Mr. Lyons has also worked for Waste Management/Wheelabrator Technologies, Browning- Ferris Industries (now Republic Services), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

He holds a B.A. in Environmental Science from Colby College, a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Tufts University, and an MBA from Franklin Pierce University.

Joseph A. Regnery

Director, Business Development West Region

Joseph Regnery joins Aries Clean Energy with more than 30 years of development, finance, legal, and marketing experience in the chemical, fuel, and power sectors.  He has worked for major equipment manufacturers, independent power producers including Calpine, and start-up energy technology companies, fielding projects and products around the globe.

He has lead gasification efforts ranging from combined cycle co-heat and power, to Fischer Tropsch fuels, to methanation synthetic natural gas.  Over the past few years, his focus has been on sustainable chemicals, fuels, and power, developing or consulting on billions of dollars of renewable energy projects.

Mr. Regnery holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin and received his Juris Doctor from Case Western School of Law.

Board of Directors

DeWitt Thompson V

Chairman of the Board of Directors

DeWitt C. Thompson, V, is Chairman of the Board of Directors for Aries Clean Energy. He has been President and CEO of Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation, a Caterpillar heavy machinery and power systems distributor, since 2007.


Mr. Thompson founded PureWorks, Inc. (dba PureSafety) in 1999 and served as Chairman until the purchase of that company by Underwriters Laboratories in 2011.


In addition to his role at Aries Clean Energy, Mr. Thompson is a Director of the Nashville Predators, Nikola Motor Company, and Wealth Access.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Michael Childers

Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors

Michael Childers, currently Senior Vice President Business and Marketing at Saulsbury Industries, has made significant career achievements in the development of entrepreneurial growth companies, including Synergy Renewables, a BP Capital backed venture focusing on waste-to- energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Saulsbury Industries, located in the Odessa/Midland Texas area, is nationally focused engineering, procurement, and construction company founded and operated on its core values of safety, integrity, excellence, relationships, and community.

He also served as president and CEO of Solar Systems, a concentrated solar power technology from Australia.

Mr. Childers’ previous experience includes:

  • CEO at TXU/Luminant Development at TXU Corporation, a major Texas utility company
  • EVP at the Shaw Group, also serving as president of their Stone & Webster subsidiary
  • President of the unregulated businesses at Entergy Corporation
  • President of Bernhard Energy in Baton Rouge, LA

He is a graduate of the University of San Diego.

DeWitt Thompson IV

Board of Directors

DeWitt C. Thompson, IV, is a member of Aries Clean Energy’s Board of Directors. Following college graduation, Mr. Thompson served in the Tennessee Air National Guard as a navigator and pilot. He joined Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation, a Caterpillar Dealership, in 1973 and took over as Chief Executive Officer in 1981. He is also the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Thompson Machinery.

Mr. Thompson has served on various outside boards of directors including First American National Bank, Forke Brothers Auctioneers, Forke Credit Corporation, Cooperative Association of Tractor Dealers, Vector Disease Control International and PureWorks, Inc. He is also a part owner of the Nashville Predators, an NHL franchise.

Mr. Thompson graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering with a focus on Civil Engineering.

John Thompson

Board of Directors

John Thompson is a member of Aries Clean Energy’s Board of directors and Vice President of Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation, a Caterpillar dealership. He is a board member of the Nashville Predators NHL hockey club, and he owns Ashland Properties, a real estate property investment company.

Prior to working for Thompson Machinery, he served as an asset manager for Covenant Capital Group, LLC. He currently serves on the boards of United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee and the Blake McMeans Promise Tour.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Mr. Thompson and his wife, Margaret, reside in Nashville with their four children.

Gregory L. Bafalis

Board of Directors

Greg Bafalis has more than 30 years of leadership in the clean technology and energy fields and serves as Chief Executive Officer of Aries Clean Energy. His experience ranges from Fortune 500 Companies to starting his own private equity-backed renewable energy company in Houston, Texas, to running a Silicon Valley clean tech startup in the algae space.

With project development, construction, financing, and operations experience in 17 countries during his career, Mr. Bafalis has successfully closed over $2 billion in project financings and raised over $250 million in venture capital and private equity funding for a wide array of startup companies.

Mark N. Witt

Board of Directors

Mark Witt joined the Aries Clean Energy team as CFO with 35 years of energy project and structured finance experience with major international companies as well as entrepreneurial start-ups.

He has successfully closed numerous financings for both public and private companies including four initial public offerings. He brings complimentary experience in power development and renewables as well as oil and gas exploration and production, transportation/storage and trading including KPMG, BP, Suez, Enron and Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Witt began his career as a CPA after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin.

Nikhil Garg

Board of Directors

Nikhil Garg is a General Partner with Spring Lane Capital where he focuses on resource innovation investments into distributed-scale technologies.

Previously, Nikhil was a Partner with Black Coral Capital where he made and oversaw project finance, growth equity, and venture capital investments across the cleantech landscape. Additionally, Nikhil served on the boards of portfolio companies in the solar and energy efficiency sectors.

Before joining Black Coral, Nikhil was a member of Climate Change Capital’s carbon finance investment team. There, he co-led U.S. strategy development for a $1B private equity fund, evaluated low carbon investments, and managed portfolio projects. Nikhil has spoken at industry events on emerging financing models for sectors including solar, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions and has served on advisory committees for the Department of Energy SunShot program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Prior to Climate Change Capital, Nikhil consulted for Core Carbon Group a leading carbon markets fund focused on opportunities in Russia and the CIS. In addition, Nikhil has worked in corporate venture capital and business development for Comcast and America Online where he invested in and developed early-stage technology-based businesses. Nikhil began his career with Bain & Co. where he advised industrial and technology clients on issues including M&A, process re-engineering, and product strategy.

Nikhil holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he was recognized with the McKinsey Award and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University. He is based in Boston where he resides with his wife and two boys.

Jim Ezzell

Advisory Board Member

Jim Ezzell serves as a member of the advisory board. His experience includes being the Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Secretary, and Director for Thompson Machinery Commerce Corporation for 29 years. Before Thompson, Mr. Ezzell spent six years in corporate banking with a major regional bank, and three years in the treasury department for a Fortune 500 company. During his tenure at Thompson Machinery, in addition to Aries Clean Energy, he has formerly held similar positions in other Thompson affiliated companies ranging from an international heavy equipment auction company which also included a captive finance company; to a newspaper publishing company; to a highly successful e-learning company.

When the company was started, Mr. Ezzell’s primary role with Aries Clean Energy was to develop financing sources not only for Aries but also for customer installations if requested. In addition to supervising the typical treasury functions, other responsibilities include tax review that may apply to installations, contract review, and risk management.

Mr. Ezzell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of the South-Sewanee and two master degrees from Georgia State University – a Masters of Business Administration in Finance and a Masters of Professional Accountancy. He currently maintains a C.P.A. – Inactive certification.

Steve Lainhart

Advisory Board Member

Steve Lainhart’s 29-year record of achievement with both Thompson Machinery and Thompson Power gives Aries Clean Energy the management and project coordination experience necessary to combine various components of industry-specific strategies and marketing for the company’s gasification systems.

As General Manager of Thompson Power for the past 15 years, he has directed sales and customer service operations in Tennessee and Mississippi through 11 field offices. Under his leadership, the company has developed a high level of specialization in tasking onsite generator capacity for health care and data emergency backup and for utility distributed generation and end-user load management.

Starting with a core generator business in healthcare markets, which demand both sophisticated control capabilities and 24-hour service response, Mr. Lainhart has leveraged Thompson’s system design and service experience into industrial processes, communications, water treatment, data management, universities, and utility applications.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and has taught mechanics and thermodynamics for Vanderbilt as an adjunct professor.

Memberships and Energy Partners