Engineering | Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE)

Steve Atkins

Steve Atkins is a Process Engineer/Systems Engineer with a broad knowledge of electronics, power systems, instrumentation and process control, and chemical engineering – particularly fuel synthesis.  Preferring to work on the development of new technology that is 2-5 years from commercialization, Steve enjoys the challenge and excels at moving lab-proven technology to the market.  Since 2006, he has worked to connect renewable electricity production to the liquid transportation market, which is currently fossil or, at best, agriculturally based.  Steve has successfully designed and constructed processes and equipment to synthesize carbon-neutral liquid fuels from electricity, water and atmospheric CO2 to produce methanol and gasoline.

Steve Atkins is an expert in wind energy including variable speed power systems modeling, design, component specification, testing, and project management.  While he has modeling experience developing a wind turbine system model to determine optimal operating characteristics for maximum energy capture, he also has field experience troubleshooting numerous generators and power conversion systems.  In addition, Steve’s experience includes Utility interfacing, synchronization, safety, power quality and instrumentation/metering systems.

Having worked for several years in Alaska, Steve is familiar with the fundamental issues of Arctic Engineering and experienced in cold weather design.   Steve’s years of experience working in Alaska have given him insight into many electrical component difficulties in harsh winter weather, enabling him to minimize data loss and project delays.  Steve is familiar with the principles and applications of grounding, lightning protection and corrosion.

Steve joined US Electricar in 1992 where he designed microprocessor-controlled battery chargers and motor controllers for electric vehicles.  In 1995 he joined the wind industry, working successively for Zond Energy Systems, Enron Wind Corporation (now GE Wind Energy) and the Wind Turbine Company, where he was responsible for the development of variable speed, power electronic drive systems and generator design for utility-scale (750 KW) wind turbines.  Steve has served for three years as a Project Engineer for VECO Alaska Inc, where he was responsible for numerous engineering projects for Alyeska Pipeline at the Valdez Marine Terminal.  While working at the Valdez Marine Terminal, Steve began researching synthetic fuel development.

As a  Research Engineer for the Institute for Sustainable Energy Solutions at Northern Arizona University, Steve was responsible for the management and implementation of several alternative energy projects; and he was the manager of the University’s Anemometer Loan and Resource Assessment Program (ALRAP) – a program that installs meteorological towers and performs wind resource assessments throughout the State of Arizona, which played a role in the development of the first commercial-scale wind farm in Arizona (Dry Lake Wind Farm).  Steve has worked on the capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for Air Fuel Synthesis in the UK.  Steve is CEO of Arizona Synthetic Fuels, LLC, a company, established in 2008 that seeks to turn renewable, wind generated, electricity into carbon-neutral liquid transportation fuels such as methanol, synthetic gasoline, and drop-in replacement jet fuel.

Steve received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1989 and 1991 and an MS degree in Applied Physics from Northern Arizona University in 2012.  Steve is registered in the State of Alaska as a Professional Engineer and a Licensed Contractor in the State of Arizona.  His professional experience and interests are in synthetic fuel synthesis, power electronics, controls, adaptive systems, and alternative energy.  In addition, he served as a technical inspector and race official for numerous electric vehicle technology competitions.  Steve has served as Secretary, Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Arizona/Nevada Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively.

View Publications

Doss, B., Ramos, C., Atkins, S., Optimization of Methanol Synthesis from Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen:  Demonstration of a Pilot-Scale Carbon-Neutral Synthetic Fuels Process. Energy & Fuels, 2009, 23, 4647-4650

Atkins, S. Synthesis of Sustainable Carbon-Neutral Liquid Fuels. Poster Presentation, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) WindPower Conference, Chicago, May 2013

Atkins, S., Doss, B., International Patent No. WO 2012006478 A3, “Self-Contained, Mobile Methanol Synthesis Plant”. (Abandoned by NAU 2013)

Atkins, S., Morgan, E., Acker, T., “The Future of Methanol, Ammonia and Other Renewable Fuels” Conference Talk, 12th Biennial Conference of Science and Management on the Colorado Plateau, Flagstaff, AZ, Sept 16-19, 2013