Making motorsport relevant

Motor racing occupies a unique position in sport as, aside from being a form of entertainment, in its best form seeks to overcome challenges that people face in their daily lives.

Matters of efficiency and safety have given us the seatbelt, ABS brakes, turbos and windscreen wipers. How many other sports can boast such an impact on the real world? While I am a massive football fan, innovations in ball design or boot stud formation have done little to save my life or lessen my impact on the environment.

But is the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1, still relevant today amidst such tight regulations? A great example from Williams Advanced Engineering provides the answer.

Everyday efficiencies

Williams Advanced Engineering is the arm of the Williams F1 team tasked with commercialising Formula 1 derived technology.

The business recently embarked on a collaborative project with Sainsbury’s supermarkets and Aerofoil Energy to develop a new aerodynamic device designed to dramatically reduce the energy consumption of refrigerators used in supermarkets.

Fridges are not only one of the greatest expenses and highest energy consumers in retailing, but they also produce major efficiency losses due to cold air spilling into the aisles.

To address this issue, Williams Advanced Engineering utilised the knowledge they have honed on the track to produce bespoke aerofoils that control the direction of airflow. When these are attached to the shelf edge in a refrigerator, cool air is recycled, which leads to reductions in power consumption and therefore a smaller carbon footprint for the supermarket and its shoppers.

The product is being trialled in supermarkets across the UK and could become widespread in their use in years to come. To date, Sainsbury’s has stated that use of the aerofoils has cut their energy use by 30%.

Since the 2,300 supermarkets and 40,000 convenience stores in the UK account for more than 5% of the nation’s total energy use, over which 60% goes on refrigeration, this technology could well pave the way to a more sustainable future.

Thought F1 was just about cars running in circles? Think again!

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