Dr. Derek Vardon

Chief Technology Officer 

Dr. Derek Vardon serves as the Chief Technology Officer at Alder Renewables, bringing over a decade of experience in research and development of renewable fuels and chemicals.  

As CTO of Alder Renewables, Derek is responsible for advancing the company’s technology development and research goals, executing its technology-to-market strategy, including joint development agreements with industry partners and multilateral federal grants. He is also responsible for supporting strategic partnerships with industry leaders, national laboratories, and universities.  
Prior to joining Alder Renewables, Derek spearheaded biofuel and biochemical development efforts at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s flagship laboratory for sustainable technology. He was responsible for leading interdisciplinary teams across the national laboratory network to partner with industry and academia for advancing renewable fuels in the aviation and ground transportation sectors.  

His technical expertise includes biomass and waste carbon conversion, hybrid biological and chemo-catalytic processing, applied catalysis, and advanced catalyst material synthesis and characterization. As a technology innovator, he has produced over 50 publications and patents. His licensed patents include wet waste conversion technology for sustainable aviation fuels, renewable carbon fiber production, and high-performance catalyst materials utilizing atomic layer deposition coatings.  

Since 2016, he has served as an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the Colorado School of Mines where he advises graduate student research on sustainable technology. Dr. Vardon received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to university, he gained a hands-on appreciation for energy technology while serving six years in the U.S. Navy as a Nuclear Electrician's Mate.