Dr. Kenneth Armijo

Research Challenge Alumni Panel

Recorded Saturday February, 13th 2021

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Dr. Kenneth Armijo is a systems engineering staff member who leads molten salt and molten alkali metals R&D at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). His research interests are in alternative energy technologies and sustainability, as they pertain to scientific and technological innovation, business and policy. Dr. Armijo holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley with minors in Energy and Resources, and business credentials in Management of Technology from Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Dr. Armijo also received a Masters in Science in Mechanical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley. Presently, Dr. Armijo’s research in concentrating solar power (CSP) consists of system design for high-temperature (>720 °C) thermodynamic and commercial R&D systems, employing ternary chloride molten salts and alkali metals (sodium) as the heat transfer fluid. He currently is the test site PI for the DOE Gen 3 Liquid-Pathway project, currently led by NREL. His research has also consisted of falling particles for centralized concentrating solar receivers. He also leads research activities pertaining to solar Stirling Engine applications as well as for solar reactor R&D and high-flux materials characterization. Dr. Armijo also serves as a lead Test Director for high-temperature materials research for power towers and solar furnace investigations.
In addition to CSP, his research also includes, and has included Photovoltaics (PV) and Distributed Energy Technologies investigations pertaining to spectral derates phenomena of single, and multijunction devices, arc-fault plasma reliability physics, thermal phenomena of PV technologies and inverter/power electronics reliability research. His arc-fault analytical and experimental work also spans applications in Nuclear energy as well as other high-voltage/high-current DC power reliability applications, where he is recognized for work in the development of U.S. and international arc-fault detection and mitigation codes and standards. His CSP and PV work addresses his vision for a more economic and sustainable future, both locally and globally.
He currently holds multiple patents on a broad range of technologies; has over fifty publications and has had three startup companies in wireless infant/elderly health monitoring systems, solar water heating technologies and in organic sustainable agriculture. His research has previously received national attention for innovation in features published on CNN, Discovery Magazine and PBS, among others. He was also recently recognized for his professional achievement as a University of New Mexico Zia and UNM College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni, in addition to a recipient of the New Mexico Forty under 40 awards, as well as a top professional in the Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology magazine.
Dr. Armijo is a proud native New Mexican who has provided technology development assistance through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program and is an active participant in Lab-to-Venture initiatives to help small businesses innovate to become successful. Additionally, he continues to use his scholarship and research experiences to facilitate a variety of STEM outreach programs for students and parents in both English and Spanish, both locally and Nationally. These programs, which include SNL’s MANOS and Noche de Ciencias programs, as well as UNM diversity programs has impacts over 1,000 students and parents annually for education levels K-PhD. Also, in his free time, he provides business operation support to his family's organic chile farm in central New Mexico. An avid musician, Dr. Armijo has been an avid musician, playing in a number of bands and ensembles in both California and New Mexico.

Email: kmarmij@sandia.gov