Formula 1 Giant Introduces Energy-Saving Technology For Supermarket Refrigerators


Williams has long carved out a reputation for being a force in Formula 1 auto racing.

Its Williams Advanced Engineering division has even segued into areas such as energy and aerospace.

And now, Williams is diving into yet another technology. The Financial Times is reporting that Williams Advanced Engineering has been collaborating with Aerofoil Energy in developing a new aerofoil technology, which allows less cold air to leak out from refrigerators in supermarkets and convenience stores (registration required).

The technology, which was actually created by Aerofoil Energy, but improved by Williams, uses thin strips of plastic that attach to open-faced refrigerator shelves, using fluid dynamics to transfer cold air back to the chiller. Both Williams and Aerofoil Energy claim their technology boasts energy savings between 10 and 32 percent, dependent on the size of the refrigerator.

"Aerofoils reduce air curtain spillage, reducing the 'cold aisle' effect and saving energy," Aerofoil claims on its website. "Aerofoils reduce 'hot-spots' and 'freezing spots,' extending product shelf life." The strips reduce energy needs and cost 80 to 90 percent lower than glass doors, Aerofoil says. 

In fact, Engadget is reporting that Sainsbury's, a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, began testing the Williams/Aerofoil Energy technology since this past June as part of its commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.

The trial period has worked well enough that the supermarket chain is installing more strips in more of its stores, before determining whether it will launch the technology in every one of its stores.

Aerofoil Energy managing director Paul McAndrew told the Financial Times that eight of the best-performing 10 supermarkets in the U.K. are considering installing the strips and that the company might be expanding to supermarkets in Africa, China and the United States.

The amount of energy — and money that could be saved in the process — seems endless.

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