Nickolas John Themelis
Dr. Themelis obtained his B. Eng. (British Association Medal for Great Distinction) and Ph.D. degrees from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) in chemical engineering.
In the first part of his career, he was Director of the Engineering Division of the Noranda Research Center in Pointe Claire where he invented and helped build the first continuous smelting and converting process, the Noranda Process. This process eliminated the use of fossil fuels in copper smelting and provided for the capture of sulphur dioxide for the manufacture of sulphuric acid. The prototype plant at Noranda, Quebec is still producing copper from copper concentrates and also recovers precious metals from over 50,000 tons of used electronics. Since its inception, the Noranda process has reduced sulphur emissions from copper smelting by millions of tons.
Before joining Columbia, he was Vice President of Technology of Kennecott Corp., the major no-ferrous company at that time. He was appointed as Professor by Columbia University (New York City, U.S.A.) in 1980 and was elected to Stanley-Thompson Chair of Chemical Metallurgy in 1988. He was chairman of the Henry Krumb School of Mines and founded Columbia’s Earth Engineering Center in 1996. In 1995, he introduced at Columbia University the teaching of industrial ecology and in 1997 led the transformation of the historic School of Mines to the new engineering discipline of Earth and Environmental Engineering and was first chairman of the new Department.
Dr. Themelis has been consultant to industry and government in the areas of process design and management of technical resources. He is member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and member or fellow of several metallurgical and waste management societies. He is founder and Chair of the Global Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT), an international consortium of universities, companies and governmental organizations concerned with the recovery of energy and materials from municipal and industrial wastes. WTERT is advancing and promoting the recovery of energy and materials from commercial and municipal solid wastes, instead of landfilling them. Current research work is on integrated waste management and has included recycling, composting and waste-to-energy. Since 2004, Prof. Themelis has directed a bi-annual national survey of the generation and disposition of municipal solid wastes generation he results of which are used by EPA in calculating the greenhouse gas impacts of waste management in the U.S..
Prof. Themelis is the recipient of several professional awards, author of nearly 200 technical papers and books and inventor of twenty one patents related to the thermal processing of materials. In 2015, Themelis and his research associate Dr. A.C. (Thanos) Bourtsalas were awarded a Columbia Presidential Global Initiative Award.