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Learning from Motorsport Technology to Cut Our Energy Use

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The latest technology from the motorsport industry, being trialled in a number of supermarkets, could be used to dramatically cut the energy used by supermarket refrigerators. This initiative and other examples of ‘horizontal innovation’ – the transfer of technology from one industry to another – are being showcased at a special event today organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA).

Speakers at today’s event in central London will explain how Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams F1 organisation,  has collaborated with UK start-up Aerofoil Energy to develop a new device that can significantly reduce the energy consumed by supermarket refrigerators.

The device forms part of a retrofit aerofoil system that keeps more of the cool air inside the refrigerator cabinet, resulting in significant energy savings. Currently, five per cent of the country’s electricity goes into supermarkets, of which around 60 per cent goes into refrigerators – this alone accounts for around three per cent of the country’s electricity usage.

Williams Advanced Engineering is currently working with leading supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Asda who have been conducting in-store trials.  These trials have already shown an average energy saving of 21 per cent.

Today’s event will also showcase other examples of horizontal innovation, including how technology from the motorsport industry is being trialled at Central Manchester University Hospitals and could transform the care of critically ill new-born babies in the health sector. Equipment commonly used in motorsport, is attached to the baby’s incubator to provide vital data as the baby is moved between hospitals. This data includes ambulance speed, G forces and vibration experienced by the baby, related to the stability of the vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure.  This information is crucial as premature and critically ill babies needing intensive care treatment are at increased risk of brain injury.

Naomi Climer, IET President, said: “Horizontal innovation is a new and ground-breaking area that all kinds of industries could benefit from and could give us the answers to some of our greatest challenges. Healthcare and retail are two industries that are already seeing the benefits of exploiting cross-sector technology transfer from parallel industries like motorsport, but there could be many more.

“At the moment we have barely touched the tip of the iceberg in exploiting the opportunity horizontal innovation presents for the UK, and innovation in general, which is why the IET has launched a UK-wide initiative to raise awareness and encourage wider take-up.”

“Innovative technologies and exceptional engineering capabilities have been created by UK motorsport suppliers, and their best-of-the-best employees, to meet the relentless, fast-response demands of world-championship motorsport” said Chris Aylett, Chief Executive of the MIA, “Increasingly, in recent years, these unique assets are being utilised successfully by diverse industries including defence, rail, aerospace and automotive as a result of the promotion of increased collaboration by the MIA. The wider engineering and technology industries in the UK industry stand to benefit if horizontal innovation increases and becomes normal practice. I am hopeful this initiative will accelerate the required progress to meet this challenge”

The event marks the start of a joint programme of events and knowledge sharing activities between the IET and MIA, highlighting UK motorsport as a ‘best practice’ example of what could, and should, be achieved more widely in other sectors across the UK and internationally by sharing knowledge, processes and technology. These could include Defence, Food, Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Agriculture, Communications, Transport and the Built Environment, among others.

As part of this activity, the IET has launched a new Horizontal Innovation category at the IET Innovation Awards, a new bespoke online community and a new innovation programme which will unlock funding and support for an SME technology transfer proposal.

This is a ground-breaking, ambitious and long-term collaboration, which will promote wider take-up of horizontal innovation.

The event is taking place at the IET’s recently reopened flagship venue Savoy Place, following a £30 million, two year redevelopment.

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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