Gasrec has completed a £1m upgrade to its flagship refuelling facility at the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), to meet mounting operator demand for biomethane fuels.

A team of engineers have installed new fuel dispensers, new supply lines and a new fuel management system, along with greater remote operability for the site – which has the capacity to refuel up to 700 trucks per day with bioLNG and bioCNG.

Gasrec has also introduced its own fuel cards to provide better information to its customers and to prepare for expansion of its station network.

The systems will also more closely match the diesel refuelling process to make driver training easier and more familiar.

Rob Wood, Gasrec chief executive, said: “This investment reinforces our confidence in the growing demand for trucks running on renewable biomethane, which now represent nearly 5% of all new tractor unit registrations in the UK.

“We have seen a huge influx of new customers at DIRFT over the course of 2020. This demand has also led us to invest in our supply chain and more than double the number of LNG road tankers in our fleet.

“These latest upgrades will ensure DIRFT continues to hit our strict targets for safety, sustainability, refuelling speed and uptime, plus it means we are best positioned to refuel the latest generations of vehicles.”

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Situated close to J18 of the M1, DIRFT offers 24/7 access to fleets from across the UK, Ireland and the continent.

It houses seven dispensing points, including four pumps and four storage tanks. It uses an independent supply pipe network to different dispensers, so in the rare event of a failure on one line, it can still operate via the others.

New systems installed measure every refuelling procedure with pin-point accuracy, including when it commences, how long it takes and the gas condition throughout the process – providing valuable management data to help Gasrec optimise the speed of refuelling and the flow of vehicles through the facility.

The company projects that one third of the UK’s 44-tonne heavy truck market will have switched to natural gas within the next seven years, with approximately 39,000 gas-powered HGVs on UK roads.

James Westcott, chief commercial officer, said: “Just two and a half years ago there were no real UK-spec gas trucks available, but following launches by three of the big manufacturers we’re now seeing exponential growth.

“We are already supplying double the volume of gas we were back in January 2020; and that’s after volumes shot up in 2019 too. Over the next few months we’re going to be supporting hundreds of new gas trucks coming on the market, as businesses look to build back from the pandemic greener and stronger.”

Gasrec said research shows that biogas-powered trucks can return CO2 savings of as high as 95%, deliver a 99% reduction in particulate matter and a 90% cut in NO2 emissions and are 50% quieter than Euro-6 diesel trucks.