Aerofoil Energy are an Award-Winning British tech start-up company partnered with Williams Advanced Engineering.
Stroll down the chiller aisle in any supermarket or convenience store and, aside from feeling cold, most people wouldn’t think that the display fridges have a profound effect on UK and global CO2 emissions.
To put this into perspective; the large supermarket and convenience store chains in the UK can consume up to 8% of the UK’s total energy consumption. Whilst this is a staggering amount of energy it is perhaps more astonishing to learn that over half of all of this energy is used by just one thing - refrigeration. Refrigeration energy is by far the largest energy consumer and energy cost for any grocery store business. Energy bills for major retail chains cost hundreds of millions of pounds every year. Efforts to reduce this cost and the associated CO2 emissions is a huge challenge for major retail chains, so tackling and reducing refrigeration energy use is a priority for any retailer.
So why do supermarket fridges use so much energy? There are two key reasons. Firstly there are vast numbers of these fridges and they are very big fridges. In the UK alone there are around 2500 superstores and around 60,000 smaller supermarkets and convenience stores. In just one major supermarket there can be around 150 metres of open fridges. Secondly, unlike any other type of fridge, supermarket display fridges are completely open to one side, so the cold air simply falls out and has to be constantly replaced. Over 60% of the total energy used by supermarket display fridges is consumed just through making new cold air to replace what is being spilt into the aisle and wasted.
The idea of using Aerofoils to save energy in commercial open fridges was first conceived by Paul McAndrew in February 2013. He worked out that by using the unique effects of Aerofoils, the cold air spill from open fridges could be reversed and cold air could be kept inside the fridge. Following extensive research and development, a patent application was filed and Aerofoil Energy was incorporated in November 2013.
Independent laboratory testing of original designs demonstrated incredible potential energy savings, piquing the interest of Williams Advanced Engineering who became official technical partner to Aerofoil Energy in 2015. Williams have since contributed hugely to the design and development of the product using their aerodynamics expertise.
Major supermarket and convenience store chains were also quick to react to the potentially huge savings that Aerofoils could offer to their businesses. Through 2015 there were numerous store trials and multi-store pilots. Manufacturers engaged with Aerofoil Energy to test the technology and, as of May 2016, there have been over 50 independent laboratory trials carried out by over 20 of the world's largest refrigeration manufacturers.
Today many of the UK's leading retailers are using Aerofoils in both new and existing stores to reduce their energy costs and Aerofoils can now be seen in supermarkets and convenience stores across the UK and Ireland. Aerofoil Energy is also operating across much of the world with customers and partners in the UK, Ireland, Australia, USA, North America, Latin America, China, Europe, Russia, India, Malaysia and Africa.
Aerofoil Energy's energy saving credentials have earned recognition from various innovation awards - in 2014 & 2015 the RAC Cooling Industry Awards listed them as finalists for 'Refrigeration Innovation of the Year' (2014) and 'Environmental Collaboration of the Year' (2015). In 2016 they were finalists at Cleantech Innovate, and, also in 2016, won the 'Horizontal Innovation' award at the prestigious IET Awards.