Williams Advanced Engineering has collaborated with UK start-up Aerofoil Energy to develop a new aerodynamic device that can significantly reduce the energy consumed by refrigerators in supermarkets and convenience stores.
Energy consumption makes up a significant percentage of a supermarket’s operational costs, with energy hungry refrigerators that keep the produce cool the largest consumer of power. Open fronted multi deck refrigerators that line the aisles of supermarkets consume excessive energy, with some of the cold air used to cool produce spilling out into the aisles resulting in increased energy consumption and “cold aisle syndrome” which can be unpleasant for shoppers.
Aerofoil Energy and Williams are developing a new retrofittable aerofoil system that attaches onto each refrigerator shelf to keep more of the cool air inside the refrigerator cabinet. This innovative technology will result in significant energy savings for supermarkets and convenience stores, with corresponding benefits for their carbon footprint. The technology will also make the shopping experience more pleasant for consumers.
Aerofoil Energy are working closely with Williams to refine the aerofoil concept, utilising Williams’ proven expertise in aerodynamic design and testing from four decades of success in Formula One racing. Williams’ Advanced Engineering division is using computational fluid dynamics to model and simulate new designs before testing them at the Williams factory in Oxfordshire.
A number of supermarkets are evaluating the aerofoil technology with promising results. Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second largest supermarket chain, has been testing the product at a number of its stores. Sainsbury’s operates 1,100 stores and uses 1% of the UK’s energy in total. As part of its 20x20 Sustainability Plan, Sainsbury’s has committed to reducing its absolute operational carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 and this technology can play a key role in achieving this target.