Williams, the British Formula One motor racing firm, has developed a new product that could help save supermarkets millions on electricity bills. This is in line with the company's efforts to spread its technological capability and brand to make more money from projects outside motor sport.
The new product perfected by engineers at the company is a thin strip of plastic shaped like an aerofoil. This is attached to the shelves of a fridge to channel the flow of cool air and restrict it from leaving the fridge helping in reducing the electricity bill.
The product is the result of a collaboration of Williams Advanced Engineering, the company's division which commercialises Formula One derived technology and knowhow, and the UK start-up Aerofoil Energy. Williams has used its supercomputing power to model how the cool air inside chiller cabinets behaved around the aerofoil.
Ian Cluett, the head of Programmes and Commercial at Williams, said: "It looks very simple but it is very complicated in real life in terms of fluid dynamics. The way the fridge behaves is different when the shelves are full or empty and when people put their hands in and out of the flow."
While a successful trial of the product has already been completed at supermarket chain Sainsbury's, a more refined system is expected to be released in January. Sainsbury's, which has embarked on a wider rollout of the product, will soon decide whether to implement the cost-saving technology across all of its stores, according to the Financial Times.
Paul McAndrew at Aerofoil Energy estimated energy savings of between 10% and 32% from the use of its technology. "If you are talking Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco, that could be multi millions of savings," he added.
Eight of the country's top 10 supermarkets are said to be considering using the product. "With every retailer we have approached, we haven't had anyone who hasn't wanted to hear more and that's probably down to the Williams brand," McAndrew said. He added that Williams and Aerofoil could expand into Africa, China and the US in the future.