Waitrose & Partners sets new standard in refrigeration with 40% energy saving

Waitrose & Partners is set to reduce energy use in its stores by more than 40%, after introducing cutting-edge new technology from Wirth Research in all new open-fronted fridge cabinets.

Standard open-fronted supermarket refrigerators lose air into the aisles, which is why customers can experience cold feet when shopping. This cold air spill is wasted energy. Wirth Research’s Next Generation Refrigeration (NGR) helps to retain more of this air inside the fridge cabinet, meaning considerably less energy is required to keep food at the optimum temperature – resulting in substantially lower heating bills.

The technology was designed and developed using advanced 3D modelling and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations* – software more commonly associated with the motorsport industry. This pinpoints improvements that fridge manufacturers can make to their cabinets to drive efficiency to previously unseen levels, and builds upon the savings already generated by Wirth Research’s pioneering EcoBlade™ shelf-edge twin strip – widely introduced by Waitrose earlier this year.

While both innovations were created using the same motorsport-inspired technology, the EcoBlade is a retrofit device, whereas NGR is incorporated directly into the body components and operations of the fridge from the outset. The result is the most aerodynamically efficient open fridge cabinet yet, and this approach – the next phase in Wirth Research’s environmental push in the refrigeration sector – considerably enhances the 25% energy saving achieved by the EcoBlade.

Indeed, NGR has been laboratory-proven to cut energy usage by more than 40% in standard store operating conditions, even surpassing what the Carbon Trust estimates would be achieved by bolting sliding or pull-out doors onto fridges – generally regarded as a deterrent to shoppers.

Four of Waitrose’s stores are now NGR-equipped – Chesham, Evesham, Dorchester and Worthing – with the technology ultimately set to replace existing refrigeration across the retailer’s entire estate. Further elements of the brand’s market-leading partnership with Wirth Research will be announced in due course.

Jim Burnett, Senior Manager, Technical Services for Waitrose & Partners, said:

“This new technology takes the energy efficiency of our refrigeration to another level, delivering significant environmental benefits while helping to create warmer, more comfortable surroundings for our customers and Partners.”

Nick Wirth, President and founder of Wirth Research and a former Formula 1 team owner, said:

As a forward-thinking, innovative retailer, Waitrose immediately recognised the benefits of our multi-faceted energy partnership and now has the world’s most efficient open fridge cabinets in its stores.

 “When NGR fridges are fitted throughout a store and the plant supplying the fridges is modified to suit, the capital expenditure reduction of the whole installation actually pays for NGR technology, meaning this is a no-brainer for new fridge and plant installations.

 “NGR can be easily integrated into any OEM open fridge cabinet, and it is our aim that all fridge manufacturers ultimately sign up to this unrivalled technology.”

*Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a tool that employs numerical methods and high-performance computing to analyse and visualise fluid flow. Wirth Research uses high-resolution CFD, which provides a more accurate understanding of airflow, allowing better and faster decision-making and leading to step-changes in performance.

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