Grid Fruit uses artificial intelligence (AI) and data to keep food fresh while reducing the energy needed for commercial refrigeration. The technology simultaneously procures savings for food retailers and provides grid services for electrical utilities.
Grid Fruit evaluates and then improves the performance of refrigeration systems in terms of energy and food quality. They plan to leverage this information for intelligent asset management including fault detection and predictive maintenance. Grid Fruit will also improve performance of refrigeration systems by providing custom operational recommendations. Finally, with better monitoring and control the technology will be able to leverage thermal storage capacity of retailer refrigeration systems as energy storage (thermal batteries) for the grid.
In supermarkets, 50-60% of the electrical energy goes to refrigeration. Oak Ridge National Lab estimates that up to a fifth of this refrigeration energy is wasted with the legacy control systems and operational norms. At the same time, data is collected from across the system and hardly used except when emergency maintenance or replacement is needed. Grid Fruit uses this data to reduce the waste and improve the bottom line for food retailers that currently run at very low profit margins of 1-2%.
Electrical utilities have an ongoing need to smooth aggregate load across their service areas. Commercial refrigeration systems constitute huge cyclical power demands that often have a peak during the hours of highest residential demand, between 6 and 10pm. Grid Fruit is developing software to adjust high demands according to the grid’s needs, i.e. lowering peak aggregate loads to reduce fuel-burning power generation.
Most direct competitors sell bulky hardware solutions, typically thermal batteries that store energy as ice during daily periods of non-peak demand to then melt and reduce the need for compressor operations during peak power demand hours. Grid Fruit’s software solution is cheaper and easier to install, plus the technology is more flexible to address needs beyond energy reduction. Finally, where competitors provide the same services indefinitely Grid Fruit uses artificial intelligence to tailor services to the individual refrigeration systems and iteratively improve them as more data is collected over time.
Grid Fruit uses AI digital controls in a breakthrough application, feeding a machine learning algorithm with data from real-time sensing. This technology provides holistic energy management for commercial refrigeration without compromising food freshness.
Grid Fruit is developing the initial product from data they’ve collected in a pilot project since 2017. Grid Fruit has set up a testbed of open top (display) and closed commercial refrigerators, all instrumented throughout with sensors that collect further environmental data.
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