MBR Global Water Award 2017
Majid Bahrami, Mechatronic Systems Engineering

April 27, 2017

Majid Bahrami has been selected as a winner of the inaugural Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award from the UAE Water Foundation for his sustainable waste-heat driven atmospheric water harvesting technology, the HAWgen. The award encourages leading corporations, research centres, institutions and innovators from across the world to compete for USD 1 million to find sustainable and innovative solar-energy solutions to the problem of water scarcity.

The idea to collect water from the air originated with the Incas in the 13th century, but doing so effectively on a large scale still eludes us. Many have tried, but existing atmospheric water generator (AWG) methods require hot humid air, water feedstocks, and/or unsustainable energy sources.

Since 2012, a small team of engineers at Simon Fraser University (SFU), led by mechatronics engineering professor Majid Bahrami, have been working on a solution.

Bahrami, a Canada Research Chair in Alternative Energy Conversion Systems, is a leader in material characterization and testing whose lab has produced innovations for a wide range of sectors. His leadership in sustainability has been recognized with a Canada Clean50 award two years' running.

His team’s innovation combines two proprietary systems into the scalable, reliable and energy efficient Hybrid Atmospheric Water Generation technology (HAWgen), which overcomes the challenges of conventional AWG in generating clean fresh water from the atmosphere.

HAWgen’s novelty lies in creating a consistently humid ambient airflow within the unit, resulting in superior water generation—even in hot and dry climates where conventional systems fail.

Currently being tested for the HAWgen is a patent-pending heat-driven adsorption refrigeration system, originally developed for automotive applications. It enables the cooling system to operate using only waste heat or solar thermal energy, and has been refined in the Bahrami lab over four years.

The integration of these two systems into a next-generation prototype will introduce a breakthrough advancement in AWG technology. The HAWgen is scalable, small and mobile, easily installed and maintained, and can provide cooling/heating by-products. The HAWgen attracted significant attention at the 2016 GLOBE Series—North America’s largest conference/expo for sustainability innovation.

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Canada Research Chair in Alternative Energy Conversion Systems
Member: AIAA, ASME Fellow, SAE, ASHRAE

The HAWgen is the latest venture for LAEC founder and head Majid Bahrami, who spent several years as a thermal engineer and consultant before joining SFU’s nationally recognized School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering. Prof. Bahrami has worked with companies and academic colleagues across Canada on collaborative research projects for which he has attracted close to $10 million in funding. His lab boasts specialized facilities for material characterization and testing and has access to SFU’s advanced materials science and nanoimaging facility. It has produced innovations in graphite heat exchangers, fuel cell materials, insulation material, pro-active efficient refrigeration for reefer trucks, sustainable cooling, thermal management of batteries, and atmospheric water generation.