Dr. SA Sherif’s Massive Impact in Research on Energy

Dr. SA Sherif, MAE Excellence Professor, and his research group have been involved in at least seven thrust areas pertaining to energy conversion devices and systems. Two of those thrust areas include frost formation in large walk walk-in freezers and design optimization of thermal and energy systems.  

Dr. Sherif shared that frost formation in large walk-in freezers can be the cause of a significant amount of wasted energy. Research performed by Dr. Sherif and his students has been the first ever to experimentally quantify what happens based on psychrometric theory and to devise a protocol that guides freezer engineers and operators on how to operate large walk-in freezers without causing frost to form in the first place. Results of the research performed under two ASHRAE contracts to Dr. Sherif are seminal and are permanently archived in the ASHRAE Handbook – Refrigeration as early as the 2006 edition of the Handbook. The section in the Handbook that addresses this important problem provides a procedure that refrigeration engineers and large walk-in freezer operators should follow to prevent the formation of ice crystals inside the freezer space and hence avoid the need to frequently defrost the coils inside the freezer. 

Design optimization of any thermal or energy system is a procedure that not only achieves the required design task but is also one that ensures that the designed product is the best product that can ever be produced under the prevailing circumstances. Research in this area typically requires fundamental knowledge in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, economics, and mathematical optimization tools. One of the significant contributions that were made by Dr. Sherif and his students in this area is determining the issues and limitations related to the performance indices that should be used to evaluate the efficacy of multigeneration systems, which are systems that produce more than one product at the same time (e.g., cooling, heating, water, power). Specifically, Dr. Sherif and his students developed methods for evaluating such complex systems by computing the relative saving ratios of energy and exergy. These saving ratios can be used as a metric for the goodness of such complex systems and for their energetic and exergetic efficiencies. These efficiencies can in turn be used as performance indicators of any multigeneration system as if it were producing only one of its products (e.g., cooling, heating, water, or power). Dr. Sherif and his students established that the equivalent exergetic efficiency of power generation is the most meaningful and most accurate performance index for assessing the performance of multigeneration systems as energy-conversion devices. Other research performed by Dr. Sherif and his students in this thrust area includes designing optimized air-conditioning systems for aquatic centers, for swimming pool heating, for automated on-demand roof-spray cooling adaptable to any building in any climate region, for district heating of large naval air stations, and for deployable heat pumps using non-conventional expansion devices. 

Dr. Sherif is also the Director of the Industrial Assessment Center at the University of Florida (UF-IAC) which is one of several centers around the country funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Center is housed in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and is co-directed by Dr. Cristian Cardenas-Lailhacar. The Center has two main missions, one pertaining to increasing industrial efficiency and the other pertaining to workforce development. The purpose of the former mission is to help the local industry become more efficient in energy, productivity, waste management, and cybersecurity. The latter function is primarily focused on training students in energy engineering. The Center has also been involved in working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Energy in helping the state chart a policy to help water and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) become more efficient in all facets of their operation. At the regional level, the Center operated as part of a consortium charged with developing policies and tools to achieve aggressive reductions in the industrial energy intensity in the southeastern part of the United States for very large energy users. 

Dr. Sherif has received many professional recognitions for his research. He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE) in March 2023. He was also appointed as Vice President of Programs for ASTFE on June 1, 2023. Dr. Sherif continues to serve as Vice President of Commission B2 on Refrigerating Equipment of the International Institute of Refrigeration and is one of two keynote speakers for the upcoming 26th International Congress of Refrigeration which will be held in Paris, France, August 21-25, 2023. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Directors of the International Association for Hydrogen Energy. Dr. Sherif is currently Editor-in-Chief of the ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering (2020-2025) and is the most immediate past Editor-in-Chief of the ASME Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications (2014-2019). He serves as Associate Editor or as a member of the editorial board or the honorary editorial advisory board of 30 other archival journals in thermal/fluid or energy sciences. He is a Life Fellow of ASME, a Life Fellow of ASHRAE, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and an Associate Fellow of AIAA. 

Great work, Dr. Sherif! 

Story by: Emily Hinds
Marketing and Communications Specialist
UF Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Posted: June 30th, 2023