Adande has poured cold water on suggestions that glass doors are the only solution to reducing the huge amount of energy wasted through supermarket refrigeration.
A petition calling for open front refrigerated display equipment to be banned in UK supermarkets was tabled by Dr Jonathan Golding earlier this year and has already gained 30,000 signatures.
Campaigners argue that supermarkets could cut energy usage by 25% just by having doors on refrigeration equipment after it was revealed that supermarket refrigeration consumes a massive 1% of Britain’s electricity supply.
The main problem associated with conventional open front chillers is that dense cold air spills from the cabinet into the store aisle. This factor, combined with warm air infiltration, means that greater duty is placed on the refrigeration plant to maintain operating temperature, resulting in increased energy consumption.
Last week refrigeration supplier Capital Cooling said it would offer supermarkets the option of free glass doors when they purchase its Galaxy integral multidecks in a bid to help retailers cut energy usage.
But Adande group company, Applied Design & Engineering, said its own Aircell system is proof that you can reduce energy usage without having to incorporate doors into refrigeration equipment.
It says the technology offers a radical approach to the problem of cold air spillage as it means that supermarkets can still use the open front multi deck cabinets that many of them traditionally prefer to display chilled goods.
Its system works by dividing the refrigerated display case’s merchandising envelope into separate air flow managed cells with low pressure air columns. Each cell has its own air curtain, which is more efficient than a full case height air curtain on a conventional multi deck case.
The net result is less pressure on the air curtain of each cell and a substantial reduction in cold air spillage, creating energy savings of over 30% compared with conventional open front cabinets, according to Adande.
Whilst doors may be an effective solution for low footfall stores with infrequent door openings, Adande’s founder Ian Wood said there was evidence to suggest they are not so effective in busy supermarkets and convenience stores, where it is known for some food retailers to register up to 250 door openings an hour.
“Understandably, many OEMs have engineered glass door cabinets to meet the BS EN ISO 23953 specification of 10 door openings per hour. However, the evaporators specified are not capable of dealing with the higher infiltration loads associated with more frequent door openings.
“This results in iced evaporators and a loss of temperature control or more frequent and harsher defrost cycles with increased energy consumption. Our tests clearly demonstrate that glass doors cabinets, designed for 10 openings per hour, experience significant loss of temperature control at an opening frequency of 30 openings per hour or more.”
Forthcoming Ecodesign regulations will see the introduction of compulsory labelling on retail refrigerated displays, making the energy efficiency of such equipment more transparent and manufacturers more accountable. However, it seems unlikely that these regulations will call for doors on supermarket refrigeration equipment, Mr Wood said.
“The holy grail for retailers is an open front cabinet for high visibility of merchandise and ease of browsing and shopping, combined with significant energy savings and accurate and stable temperature control. Cabinets with doors do not meet these criteria and shelf edge technology does not deliver sufficient energy savings or meet the needs for accurate control of operating temperature.
“In my opinion the only technology, currently available, which fits the bill is the Aircell air management system. We will continue to support the drive for the development of disruptive technology, which lowers energy consumption and reduces food waste.”
A number of retailers have begun retrofitting shelf edge technology to cabinets, but Mr Wood argues that this solution does not deliver the level of energy savings that will be required to make a significant impact on the retail industry’s electricity consumption, nor does it address the issue of accurate holding temperatures for food quality and safety.