Professor Majid Bahrami holds part of a low-pressure evaporator that is designed and built for a waste-heat driven adsorption cooling system for use in cars and home air conditioning systems.

SFU professor recognized among Canada's Clean50

November 10, 2015

Simon Fraser University’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering (MSE) has been recognized nationally for its clean energy research and training. Professor Majid Bahrami is the recipient of a 2016 Canada Clean50 Award in the research and development category.

Bahrami, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Alternative Energy Conversion Systems, was among more than 550 initial candidates for a Clean50 title. He was cited for discovering new products and processes that improve the efficiency of heating/cooling systems for a broad range of uses, such as in vehicles, electronics and buildings, and for his leadership in training students to design sustainability solutions.

“Through collaboration with industry, Dr. Bahrami has developed innovative ‘clean’ solutions ranging from passive cooling systems for telecommunications (15 per cent carbon-footprint reduction) to adsorption cooling systems, using waste heat, and eliminating harmful refrigerants,” said Gavin Pitchford, chief talent officer of Delta Management Group.

“He is a leading researcher in graphite heat exchangers, fuel cell materials, sustainable cooling, thermal management of batteries, and atmospheric water generation. And he has trained more than 70 students in sustainability research.”

Delta Management Group oversees Canada’s annual Clean50 Awards along with the Clean50 organization. They recognize individuals or small teams in 16 categories who have advanced sustainability and clean capitalism in Canada over the past two years.

Ensuring his new discoveries have an industrial application is important to Bahrami. “Collaboration with industry provides the insight needed to take the fundamental research that my team does in the lab to the next level,” says Bahrami. “It also provides great exposure for my students to real-life engineering problems and challenges, and helps them secure jobs in industry.

“More importantly, in many cases, working with industry opens new horizons in cutting-edge research and innovation which would have been highly improbable to achieve through pure engineering academic research.”

His research team recently worked with three fleet companies – Cool-It, CrossChasm Technologies and Saputo Dairy Products Canada – and the University of Waterloo to investigate eliminating the need to use a running engine to power a vehicle’s refrigeration system. Instead, waste heat from engines and brakes could be turned into power for the air conditioning and refrigeration using a process called adsorption.

“Bahrami has earned $9.4 million from funding agencies for his alternative energy research,” said Uwe Glässer, dean pro tem in SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences. “He is creative and clearly a leader in this important area. As a faculty member, he has provided an opportunity for many undergraduate and graduate students to challenge themselves and push the boundaries of their knowledge in sustainable energy.”

Bahrami encourages his students to engage in experiential activities to communicate their research, including submitting journal publications, and speaking at conferences and community events. His students, comprised of future engineers, chemists and physicists have joined the 2015 Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum, 2015 Greater Vancouver Clean Technology Expo, 2014 Globe Foundation conference for sustainable development and Earth Day events, among others.

Bahrami, who worked as a thermal engineer and consultant in the heating, ventilation/air conditioning and refrigeration industries before entering academia, would like to see a net-zero impact on the environment when it comes to heating and cooling systems.

He hopes to develop a next generation air conditioning system small enough to be adopted widely by the car industry. He also is taking his knowledge of adsorption systems and applying it to atmospheric water generation systems (drawing potable water from humidity in the air) by integrating solar thermal and industrial waste heat as a source of cooling power.


As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.

Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.