A good starting point

Invited to see a biofuelled oil boiler in action by Worcester Bosch, Oil Installer’s editor, Jane Raphael and deputy editor, Peter Clayton were very pleased to accept.

Touring the shop floor first, operations manager, Peter Wragsdale, proved to be an excellent guide. It was interesting to learn that the Clay Cross facility, which can receive up to 40 tonnes of steel a day, manufactures every component of its oil-fired boiler range by cutting, folding, punching and welding the raw material. The only exception being one small piece which must be finished externally to form its requisite shape. Up to 15,000 components are produced by the press shop every day for the 36 different variants on offer to those using oil-fired heating.

Having seen oil-fired boilers ready to leave the factory, training engineer Alan Moody explained that the demonstration boiler was exactly the same, bar a tweak to the ignition. Some older boilers may possibly require nozzle or burner adjustments. The difference is that this boiler’s fuel is 30% biofuel. Supplied by Argent Energy, the bio element is made up of waste products such as used cooking oil, chip fat and tallow which would otherwise go to landfill.

The primary aim of this demonstration boiler, which is monitored alongside a conventional kerosene boiler, is to show policy makers, engineers and installers just what can be achieved by using waste products to help lower carbon levels.

A good starting point’ for OFTEC’s CEO, Paul Rose, who was also present; OFTEC has long been a champion of biofuels. Indeed, biofuels trials and research commissioned by OFTEC has already established that a high percentage of existing oil-fired boilers would require little or no modification to run on B30K or higher.

As always, good housekeeping will be essential for both tank and boiler to operate efficiently, with fuel tanks needing to be fit for purpose and thoroughly cleaned out before storing biofuels.

How Clay cross plans to benefit the world…

Oil-fired boilers have been manufactured on the same site in Clay Cross, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, since 1962 when a purpose-built factory was constructed for industrialist Robert Ingham on the location of what was the old Parkhouse pit. That same production facility – although having undergone several changes of ownership and countless upgrades in technology and production methods – is now one of the heating industry’s most modern, innovative and prestigious manufacturing plants, owned and operated by Worcester Bosch.

In 1971 the business was bought from Ingham by Delglo Appliances to manufacture gas boilers, who themselves were acquired just six years later by Worcester. In 1982 the first solid fuel boiler was built on site… a production line which enjoyed a limited future.

Ten years later, Worcester Heating Systems became part of the Bosch Group and in 1993 the Clay Cross facility began making oil boilers for Junkers. In 2001, the Highflow gas boiler production was transferred to Clay Cross, and 2005 saw the integration of Boulter Buderus. Two years later high efficiency oil boiler legislation came into effect, resulting in the introduction of the condensing boiler range.

The 50th anniversary of Worcester was celebrated in 2012, just one year before the launch of the company’s ErP-compliant boiler range. In 2014, Worcester Bosch held the official opening of a gas-fired boiler assembly line at the Clay Cross facility, and today the total manufacturing capacity of the site is up to 48,600 boilers each year on a 70/30 oil to gas split – even though the company stepped up production to 50,000 boilers to meet market demand in 2017.

During the past couple of years, Worcester Bosch’s Clay Cross site has benefitted from a multi-million-pound investment programme, including new production and testing facilities, a major facelift to both the exterior and interior of the 20,482 square metre site, and enhanced facilities for the company’s 220 employees based there.

Apart from its home UK market, for which Clay Cross has produced 27,662 oil and 6,205 gas boilers so far this year, the facility also produces both oil-fired and gas-fired boilers for many overseas markets – including North America, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Hungary, Portugal, Latvia, Slovakia, Russia and Croatia.

As for the future, the company is closely aligning itself to a green, low-carbon environment and the Worcester Bosch Clay Cross facility is now totally geared up for the manufacture of its oil-fired boiler ranges suitable for biofuels – not only for the UK market, but also to benefit customers throughout the world.