Aerofoil, a collaboration between Williams Advanced Engineering and Aerofoil Energy, is among the three shortlisted finalists for the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award, the UK's longest-running and most prestigious national prize for engineering innovation. It recognises outstanding engineering innovation combined with proven commercial success and tangible social benefit.
Aerofoil is a new aerodynamic device that significantly reduces the energy consumed by refrigerators in supermarkets and convenience stores by retaining more of the cold air in the fridges. These energy consumption reductions lead to significant carbon emissions savings and also warmer aisles for shoppers.
“The team at Williams Advanced Engineering and Aerofoil Energy are delighted to have been recognised by the MacRobert Award for the innovation involved in Aerofoil and the positive impact it is making on the economy and the environment,” said Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering. “Combining an innovative idea from Aerofoil Energy with our engineering and aerodynamic capabilities has enabled the product verification and engagement of leading supermarkets as customers, delivering benefits for them and their shoppers for the long-term.”
Energy consumption makes up a significant percentage of a supermarket’s operational costs, with refrigerators that keep produce cool the largest consumer of power in supermarkets. Open-fronted, multi-deck supermarket refrigerators consume a lot of energy, with some of the cold air used to cool produce spilling out into the aisles resulting in increased energy consumption and a colder environment for shoppers.
Aerofoil Energy and Williams Advanced Engineering developed Aerofoil, a new retrofittable device that attaches onto each refrigerator shelf to keep more of the cool air inside the refrigerator cabinet. Aerofoil can also be incorporated into new fridges. This innovative technology results in significant energy savings for supermarkets and convenience stores, with corresponding benefits for their carbon footprint and energy consumption. The technology will also make the shopping experience more pleasant for consumers. It is being rolled out across many UK supermarkets this year.
Aerofoil Energy worked closely with Williams Advanced Engineering to refine the original Aerofoil concept, using Williams’ proven expertise in aerodynamic design and testing from four decades of success in Formula One racing. Williams’ Advanced Engineering division uses computational fluid dynamics to model and simulate new designs before testing them at the Williams technical facility in Oxfordshire.
“It’s an honour for us to be through to the final three for the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award,” said Paul McAndrew, CEO of Aerofoil Energy Ltd. “This is a great partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering and it is delivering tangible benefits to our supermarket customers, the environment and consumers across the UK, with potential for worldwide application. We’re excited about where the future might take Aerofoil and hopeful for the final award decision soon.”