Computational, theoretical and experimental investigations in developing energy conversion technologies and systems by Dr. Neerav Abani

Location and Date: 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 5:00 PM, LT 302


Energy conversion systems are at a crucial point of transition and development as it continues to play an important role for transportation, power generation and energy-water-food nexus in 21st century. The industry and research groups are currently investigating multiple technologies in the field of clean energy solutions, several of which are in prototype phase and the scalability is being investigated currently. For example, in the field of propulsion systems, opposed piston engine that reduces heat transfer loss is in development phase for power generation, transportation, defense and marine applications. Another focus of clean energy solution is clean coal/biomass gasification. Although gasification has been around, to develop a gasification system that can deliver modern emission norms and energy requirement that can lead to use of traditional energy resources in cleanest possible way would require a multitude of efforts from research as well as collaboration with energy industry. Recent events from Northern India of bringing agricultural by products opens opportunities of innovation towards scalable gasification. Modern tools such as Machine Learning and Genetic Algorithm are currently being used to optimize and design next generation of energy systems. These techniques coupled with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models can provide multi-objective design solutions such as reducing pollutant emissions and health hazards such as NOx, soot, CO and maximize engine efficiency.
In this presentation, various energy conversion systems, such as Low Temperature combustion engines, entrained flow gasifiers, swirl combustors and advanced opposed-piston engines will be discussed covering transportation, power generation and defense sectors. The topics will provide brief overview of results from the fundamental investigation of fluid mechanics, reactive turbulent flows and heat transfer in these energy systems. Next the presentation will cover breaking down of problems to solve fundamental fluid mechanics and turbulent mixing to improve predictions as well as designs of modern energy systems which require higher fidelity and more accurate predictive models.
The last part of the presentation will cover detailed system-level investigation of an advanced propulsion system, opposed piston engine for transportation, defense and power generation application. Details of thermal barrier coating, design of combustion chamber, injection strategies will be discussed which reveals potential of OP engines as the most efficient propulsion system for heavy-duty transportation vehicles. The presentation will conclude with continued role of computational, theoretical and experimental research in modernizing energy systems as well as designing new systems involving super-critical cycles, fuel cells, EVs, thermal management solution.


Dr. Neerav Abani is an experienced researcher in the field of energy conversion technologies and applied computational science for product development and management. He has extensive experience on advance propulsion systems, advanced power train, turbomachinery and fuels. Currently Dr. Abani is part of a venture backed company, Achates Power Inc., which is engaged in developing a revolutionary advanced propulsion system, opposed-piston (OP) engine; a fundamentally better engine. As a Senior Technical Advisor at Achates Power, he advises company leadership in developing strategies and direction towards technological development. He is also leading development of propulsion system at Achates Power for multiple customer application as a team-lead for propulsion system development and supervises junior engineers. He has led these developments to satisfy stringent emission norms worldwide and to lower carbon footprint on modern energy systems. He frequently interacts with customer technical leadership and C-level executives to present potential benefits of company’s flagship product. Dr. Abani received B.Eng. in mechanical engineering from Sardar Patel University in India and M.S. from Indian Institute of Science. He received his Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and as part of his doctoral program at the university’s engine research center (ERC). He worked with Prof. Rolf. D. Reitz to develop multi-dimensional models for novel engine combustion concepts and advanced strategies applied to Low Temperature Combustion (LTC) engine combustion technology. He also worked at MIT’s Reacting Gas Dynamics lab as Postdoctoral Scientist with Prof. Ahmed Ghoniem to develop efficient energy conversion technologies and higher fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to investigate these systems. Earlier in his career, he worked at Larsent & Toubro’s Oil & Gas division and GE global research center’s Energy and Propulsion Technologies lab. At GE, he worked with global teams in the field of turbo-machinery and developed solutions to improve thermal efficiency of power plants. Dr. Abani has several patents and peer reviewed publications. He also reviews articles for peer-reviewed journals in the field of energy, propulsion system, fluid mechanics and computational methods.