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Williams Technology Centre in Qatar and Sainsbury’s form technology collaboration; MLC flywheel energy storage for stationary applications

Sainsbury’s and Williams F1 will collaborate to apply Formula One-inspired technologies being developed at the Williams Technology Centre (WTC) in Qatar to help the supermarket group increase its energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The partnership will also see advanced vehicle simulator technology used to support the training and development of Sainsbury’s drivers to enhance both energy efficiency and safety.

The two announced two specific projects, with further areas of related collaboration under active discussion.

The first project will explore the adoption and use of Williams F1’s proprietary stationary high-momentum MLC flywheel systems (earlier post) in Sainsbury’s extensive network of depots and stores in the UK. The energy storage technology is expected to help Sainsbury’s support the introduction of distributed renewable energy generation, reduce energy consumption and increase reliability. The technology is a transient energy storage system, first developed for use in Formula One racing and now being scaled for a wide range of industrial and civil applications at the WTC which is headquartered at the Qatar Science & Technology Park in Doha, Qatar.

The second area of co-operation is in the advanced training of road haulage operators who drive Sainsbury’s fleet of HGV and online delivery vehicles, using Williams F1’s driver-in-the-loop vehicle simulator technologies. The simulator technology, again developed initially for the advanced training of Formula One drivers, is being further developed and extended at the WTC in Qatar to address a wide range of professional driver tuition and road safety applications. The technology allows high-fidelity advanced training to be conducted in a controlled environment across varied contexts with the benefit of repeatability to enable assessment and skills improvement.

The objectives of the simulator program are to create a best-in-class standard of driver training to improve road safety as well as to develop driving skills that will minimize fuel consumption, thereby making a significant contribution to the efficiency of the Sainsbury’s fleet.

Sainsbury’s aims to reduce its CO2 emissions per square meter by 25% by 2012; energy-related pilot programs to date have addressed supply (wind, solar and geothermal energy for example) as well as consumption (LED lighting, CO2 refrigeration).


Henry Gibson

Flywheels assisted with electronics are very good for building power management. The high demand needed for starting motors can be reduced. The energy in flywheels is already being used to start emergency generators and support the load whilst the generators are starting. The fuel powered generators can be made to operate at efficient speeds or high power speeds and the flywheels can supply peak loads for several seconds until more machines can be brought up to power. Direct current distribution for buildings would save on conduit power losses.

There is no reason anymore to distribute electricity as one or three phase AC in buildings. There are DC input electronic drives for every possible motor size. Lighting can be done with direct current without problem with the new electronic balasts or with old bulbs. Dimmers can be made to use DC as well as AC with newer semiconductors.

Big direct current motor generators were used to provide peak loads for steel rolling mills. The cables of direct current distribution systems also store energy. Locomotives with clever electric controls and motors and generators attached to large flywheels were very useful in saving energy on interrupted London area third-rail railway electrification systems, and not a single power transistor was needed.

Since air bearing highpower turbines were invented and sold there is no major reason why large buildings should connect to the power grid and flywheels and sodium-sulphur batteries make it even easier. ..HG..

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