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Feb 13, 2018

Baby It’s Cold Outside

by Gary Rapps - Non-Exec Director

Baby It’s Cold Outside

The temperature may have been rising in the British Olympic team camp, as they struggled to get onto the winter medals table this year, but other cold fronts seem to be dominating the news at present.

Away from the actual sporting action we hear that extreme temperatures in South Korea have left television presenters struggling to speak after their water-based make-up froze to their faces!

Temperatures reached -23C in PyeongChang recently, leading to broadcasters' electronic equipment failing to operate and Amy Williams, former skeleton racer and Olympic gold medallist now turned BBC presenter, tweeting “So anyone know of good make up that is oil based?” A perfect opportunity for some unofficial Olympic endorsements perhaps?

The coldest inhabited place on earth was also in the news too as the main thermometer in Oymyakon, a remote Siberian village, malfunctioned this month.

The public device, installed as a tourist attraction, recorded -62C, before calling it a day, just a few degrees short of the -67.7C record, logged in the village in February 1933.

Certainly sounds like a place where the inhabitants would not be too worried if their own refrigerators broke too unlike those in charge of US President Trump’s military-spec jet liner, Air Force One.

The aircraft is to receive a $24m (£17m) refrigerator upgrade as makers, Boeing, look to install two gigantic new chillers that will store enough food to keep those on board going for weeks at a time.

Not surprising really as chilled food production, in the UK alone, is one of the fastest growing, most innovative and advanced food sectors. Currently worth around £11bn, it employs more than 70,000 people and each year puts 12,000+ different products on our own chilled supermarket shelves.

One of the problems with refrigeration, faced by retailers though, is that the traditional coolants used - hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) - are extremely polluting greenhouse gases.

There are moves within the industry, according to Myles McCarthy, Director of Implementation at the Carbon Trust, to switch to natural refrigerants based on carbon dioxide (CO2), which are a thousand times less polluting than HFCs and HCFCs.

With that in mind, German discount supermarket group Aldi recently announced that it was spending £20m on installing natural refrigerants across all of its UK stores to reduce its environmental impact.

Another issue facing stores is the rising cost of electricity to power these units and rival Sainsbury’s has decided to take a lead here using inspiration from Formula 1 racing cars of all places.

A new device, basically a thin strip of aluminium and plastic shaped like a wing, is being attached to the front of their cabinet shelves in as many as 1,400 stores.

"The aerofoil acts like the rear wing of an F1 car and guides the air to create an air curtain," explains Craig Wilson, managing director of Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).

The strip, a result of a collaboration between WAE, the offshoot of the Williams F1 team, and Aerofoil Energy, may look simple, but it could save the supermarket nearly £10million pa in refrigeration costs.

An added benefit of the technology for shoppers is that by ensuring less cold air escapes from chiller cabinets, temperatures in the aisles are expected to increase by up to 4°C.

Ok, not enough to make you cancel your summer holiday I know, but certainly a place where BBC sports presenters will feel more at home in the future.

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