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Swapnil Desai

Computational Energy Systems


Originally from India, Swapnil attended the Sardar Patel University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. A 2nd-year class in Engineering Thermodynamics left a lasting impression on him. He was extremely fascinated by finally understanding how the engines propelled vehicles and how the refrigerators cooled things. Throughout his undergraduate studies, he felt a very strong inclination towards the field of thermal engineering. As a part of his final year project, Swapnil was involved in carrying out a comprehensive ‘Value Analysis’ of refrigeration systems (Conventional vis-à-vis solar) and extension of the same to power generation systems (Conventional vis-à-vis Solar).

After graduation, he was recruited by the Indian multinational conglomerate – Larsen & Toubro Ltd. where he worked as an Executive Engineer for 2 years. Here, he got a chance to understand the design, manufacturing and operations of the latest ‘once-through, tangentially fired supercritical boilers’. This on-the-field training gave him added impetus to pursue graduate studies and he secured an admission into University of Southern California where he did his masters in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on energy conversion. During his time at USC, he was a part of Dr. Paul Ronney’s Combustion Physics Laboratory where he performed and optimized experiments for the project ‘A non-catalytic fuel flexible reformer’ which involved the process of converting hydrocarbon fuels into electrical energy by reforming the hydrocarbons into syngas which is a mixture of H2 and CO, and using the separated H2 as a fuel which has a number of advantages over existing batteries including energy density, transportation, supply infrastructure etc. This mixture can then be used as a fuel in a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) which is able to efficiently convert the syngas into electricity.

Swapnil prefers to call himself an ‘Energy Designer’ who by combining the best of both worlds – Mechanical Engineering and Thermal Sciences - intends to develop highly efficient power systems and novel fuels that are capable of supplying the on-demand energy with least possible emissions. Now, as a part of the Bredesen Center, he intends to work on Direct Numerical Simulation of Turbulent Flames to better understand the phenomenon of mixed-mode combustion as well as combustion at high pressure, the results of which are of immediate interest to ground, sea, and air transportation, defense, space propulsion, power generation, air pollution, energy efficiency, sustainability, and chemical warfare agent reduction. In his free time, Swapnil likes to explore new places, watch sci-fi movies and play video games.


Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Emphasis: Energy Conversion), University of Southern California, CA, USA, May 2015

Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering – Sardar Patel University, GJ, India, July 2011




Six Sigma Green Belt for Process Improvement, Institute of Industrial Engineers, License 2052-3, April 2014 – April 2017

Engineer-In-Training (Mechanical), California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, License 155913, May 2015 - Present

Awards and Recognitions

  • Scholar Award – Maa Foundation, GJ, India, May 2007
  • Travel Award – Western States Section, Combustion Institute, CA, USA, August 2014


Fuel reforming using counter-current heat-recirculating combustors”, Shrey Trivedi2, Swapnil Desai2, Andrew Lawson2, Chien-Hua Chen1 and Paul Ronney2 at the Spring meeting of the Western States Section of the Combustion Institute, Caltech, 2014. (1Advanced Cooling Technologies, 2University of Southern California).

A Thermal Partial Oxidation ‘Swiss-Roll’ Fuel Reformer”, Chien-Hua Chen1, Howard Pearlman1, Shrey Trivedi2, Swapnil Desai2, Andrew Lawson2, Srushti Koli2, Paul D Ronney2 – a Work-in-progress poster (WiPP) presented at the 35th International Symposium on Combustion, San Francisco, 2014 (1Advanced Cooling Technologies, 2University of Southern California).

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