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Pure Energy: Michigan Energy Club Co-founder Ashwin Salvi settles in at ARPA-E

Ashwin Salvi, a University of Michigan Mechanical Engineering Ph.D graduate and Michigan Energy Club co-founder is applying the interdisciplinary energy experience he gained at U-M as a Fellow at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) focusing on combustion systems and engines. Based in Washington, D.C., ARPA-E Fellows assist the agency in identifying possible breakthrough energy technologies through technical and economic analyses. During their two-year tenure, ARPA-E Fellows undergo a full-immersion experience in energy technology development, engaging with world-class researchers in academia and industry, entrepreneurs, and government officials.

Salvi’s extensive background in energy and research has played a big part in being selected for the competitive position. Salvi received his Master’s and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan under the supervision of Dennis Assanis and John Hoard. His Master’s thesis investigated the impacts of alternative fuels (bio-diesel, jet fuel, synthetic jet fuel) on diesel combustion, emissions, and engine performance during steady state and transient engine operation. For his Ph.D. thesis, Salvi developed and applied a novel methodology to experimentally determine the in-situ thermo-physical properties of nano-particulate deposit layers in a specially constructed heat exchanger using infrared thermography.

When he was not studying, Salvi also found time to serve as the co-founder and Vice President of the Michigan Energy Club. It’s a student-run group composed of students and non-students, across academic disciplines, who share an interest in energy topics. Salvi believes the Energy Club’s broad mission, and his exposure to new ideas focused on energy spurred him to come to Washington D.C. and work at the epicenter of innovation, ARPA-E. “The idea behind the energy club was to make a group that didn’t have a bias toward a certain energy source,” Salvi explained. “We wanted to educate people who were interested in learning about all forms of energy and determine the things we need to learn about for years to come.”

Salvi hopes to use the fellowship to not only utilize his experience in combustion, but also to explore alternative fuel sources for engines (such as biomass), and how to increase the thermal efficiency and reduce pollution of engines, while exploring some of the opportunities surrounding distributed generation systems. By working with ARPA-E Program Directors, Fellows are encouraged to investigate new program areas of interest and to undertake independent exploration of promising future research areas for the Agency. They also have the opportunity to host workshops to learn more about the state of the art in certain technical fields, establish potential program metrics, evaluate proposed project concept papers and full applications, and perform project site visits to evaluate progress.

Of the two-year fellowship, Salvi says, “I’m hoping the experience itself will change what I want to do. ARPA-E is focused on the development and deployment of disruptive energy technologies, a task that is neither straightforward nor singular. For the future, I think it would be interesting to be on the interface of science and policy. I think I can make an impact with policy and help advocate for energy technology to get to the next level.”


To learn more about ARPA-E, click here.

To learn more about the Michigan Energy Club, click here.