Technology used to design aircraft wings is being applied to make supermarket fridges more energy efficient.
Fridgeland has developed aerofoil strips that can be fitted to the shelf edges of supermarket fridges to help reduce energy use and improve performance. The transparent strips can be fitted either with the price label behind or mounted on top.
The strips work in the same way as aircraft wings, but instead of creating lift they help prevent cold air spilling out of a fridge and reduce the mixing of warm air with cold air - two key reasons for high energy use.
Fridgeland said independent lab testing by RD&T Bristol indicated aerofoils delivered an energy saving of 15% to 17%. Given that refrigeration typically accounts for 60% to 70% of total energy use in a supermarket, this represented a substantial cost saving, said Fridgeland MD Paul McAndrew.
He added that the solution came with none of the disadvantages associated with fridge doors - trialled by retailers including Tesco and The Co-op Group to help cut energy use.
“They don’t put a barrier between customers and products, can be fitted to any width of aisle, are comparatively low-cost and can be retrofitted to refrigeration without rendering the plant and pipework unsuitable,” he said.
Testing also indicated that aerofoils improved performance by reducing the range of temperatures inside fridges. The existence of hot spots in a fridge means retailers have to increase cooling, which increases energy use and can in some cases cause products to freeze elsewhere.
In testing, aerofoils reduced the temperature of the warmest areas by half a degree.
The technology will be presented at the annual conference of the International Institute of Refrigeration in June.