Revolutionary river technology marks first for Leeds and milestone for new eco-friendly facility for Vickers Oils

Eleven kilometres of coiled pipework for a highly efficient water source heat pump has been craned into the River Aire, marking a major step in the installation of a pioneering new eco-friendly facility for Vickers Oils, a family-run company which has been based at its Clarence Road site in Leeds, for almost 140 years.

The company, which is the market leader worldwide for high performance, environmentally acceptable technical lubricants for the textile and marine industries, is developing new facilities including a new boiler house and tank farm; state of the art laboratory and extensive upgrades and extension to its warehouse facility.

The buildings will be heated and cooled using the new water source heat pump, the first time this type of technology has been used in Leeds, providing an energy efficient, low carbon system.

The new facilities will allow Vickers Oils to increase production and continue the development of its award-winning environmentally acceptable lubricant range.

The green elements of the new facilities, which also include photo voltaic panels to generate up to 19 per cent of the electricity used across the site and new high efficiency steam boilers, have been designed by building services engineers at local professional services firm WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

The company is supplying a range of engineering services including environmental impact assessment, ecology, acoustics and wider engineering consultancy support, drawing on its expertise in the sustainability and energy sector.

This investment follows an unprecedented period of growth for Vickers Oils, which employs 63 people, between 2014- 2015 thanks to a regulation change in the US in 2013 called the ‘Vessel General Permit’ which mandates the use of Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants for all ships operating in US waters.

As pioneers of the world’s first biodegradable sterntube oil, HYDROX BIO, Vickers is market leader in this field worldwide.

Peter Vickers, the fifth generation of the Vickers family to head up the business, said: “As a company, we believe in doing what’s right.  As we design and build new facilities, we want to make our site as sustainable and as energy efficient as is feasible. 

“We seek to be innovators, so we were pleased when WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff proposed the use of water source heat pumps; by being one of the first businesses in the city to use this technology, perhaps we may encourage others to follow suit.”

Jason Richards, technical director at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, added: “It is fantastic to work with Vickers Oils, alongside the wider design team, to create a new development which puts sustainability at its heart.

“We’ve worked closely with the Environment Agency and Canal & River Trust on the implementation of the new water source heat pump, which has been installed by TGE Group, and offers unrivalled benefits in terms of creating an energy efficient heating and cooling system with no detrimental effects to the natural habitat of the river. There are hundreds of businesses based along the River Aire which could employ similar schemes.”

Work is already on site for new facilities, which are due to be operational later this year. The locally-sourced design team also includes architects Halliday Clark in Shipley; structural engineers ARC in Morley; Watsons Building Services in Keighley; quantity surveyors Michael Eyres Partnership and principal contractor Bermar Building, both based in Bradford.

Scott Glynn, Vickers Oils; Jason Richards, WSP | PB and John Hill, Vickers Oils. Picture by Simon Dewhurst 


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