By Mark Golden
The magazine applauds auspicious achievements in 20 categories, from healthcare to sports. “30 Under 30 in Energy” this year features alumni Apoorv Bhargava (MS/MBA ’17) and Timothy Latimer (MS/MBA ’17), as well as students Dhruvik Parikh (undergraduate ’22) and Austin Sendek (PhD candidate applied physics). In addition, William Tarpeh, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, was selected for “30 Under 30 in Science.” Stanford produced 54 members of the 2019 lists in total, the most of any university, Forbes reported.
Bhargava is co-founder of Weave Grid, which helps utilities manage the charging of electric vehicles, a service expected to grow exponentially for which utilities and the electric grid were not designed. The startup’s software integrates data from multiple sources to provide distribution system awareness and coordination, while making the most of charging flexibility. Bhargava and fellow co-founder John Taggart (PhD candidate, management science and engineering) are supported in preparing the underlying Stanford technology for commercialization with an Innovation Transfer grant from the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy under the advice of Prof. James Sweeney.
Latimer, like Bhargava, earned his joint degree through Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources. Latimer co-founded Fervo Energy with Jack Norbeck (PhD ’16). The company has adapted horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies from the oil and gas industry for use in geothermal power. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures recently invested in Fervo Energy, which also just received a development grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Like Weave Grid, Fervo began its path toward commercialization as a beneficiary of the TomKat Center’s Innovation Transfer program.
Stanford freshman Parikh won the 2018 Intel Young Scientist award as a high school senior for “developing a lower-cost, higher-performance membrane for vanadium redox flow batteries, which hold promise for use to store renewable energy,” according to Forbes. Now, he is working to commercialize the technology with a team at the University of Idaho, while focusing his studies on computer science and math.
Sendek is the founder and chief executive of AIONICS, which uses machine learning to quickly design batteries optimized for specific applications as requested by battery and electronics manufacturers. Sendek performed the early stage research on this work under Prof. Evan Reed in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering with the support of a TomKat Center seed grant. He explained the ongoing work in a Stanford Energy Seminar in January, which can be watched here.
Prof. Tarpeh was recognized in Forbes' “30 Under 30 in Science” category for “developing chemical reactions that recover the waste from wastewater and turn it into useful products,” like fertilizer. The 17,000 municipal wastewater treatment facilities in the United States are expensive to operate and use about 2 percent of the country’s energy. With the help of Tarpeh and others, they could become slight net producers of energy, while also salvaging valuable nutrients, metals and reusable water—all now just sent to sea. Turning wastewater economics on its head could bring modern sanitation to communities that cannot now afford it. Tarpeh earned a PhD in environmental engineering at UC-Berkeley and a BS in chemical engineering at Stanford.
Stanford students and alumni in energy have been featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in each of its eight years. Winners are chosen in a competitive process. This year's judges for the energy category were Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship; John Goff, cofounder of Crescent; Amrit Robbins, founder of Axiom Exergy; and Peter Zornio, chief technology officer of Emerson Electric. Judges for the science category were Tim Downing, assistant professor at UC-Irvine; Jason Kelly, cofounder of Ginkgo Bioworks; Josh Wolfe, cofounder of Lux Capital; and Sara Seager, professor at MIT.
Read the Forbes "30 Under 30 in Energy" full report here.