Volac switches from oil to LNG

In 1989 Volac acquired the milk processing site at Felinfach, West Wales. Today, Felinfach produces milk based products for the feed and food markets.

The challenge

Volac use large oil fired boilers to meet process steam and heating requirements. With ageing plant and a fuel bill of £5M per annum, Volac asked Carbon Architecture to investigate and develop a strategy to minimise costs and emissions, and maximise future benefits to the business.

What we did – Thermal systems efficiency

Our engineers firstly carried out a detailed investigation of thermal systems across site to identify the potential for optimisation or changes.

Considering areas such as distribution systems, feed water chemistry, boilerhouse design, setup and control, we were able to identify numerous low cost retrofit and design improvement opportunities for the steam system. To supplement this we developed an innovative concept for heat recovery to steam from the thermal fluid systems. These combined opportunities will save the site 6% of their annual fuel bill and 6% on fuel carbon emissions, with a payback of under 1 year.

Fuel Switching

The Carbon emissions as well as the cost associated with the burning of fuel oils are very high when compared to alternative fuels. Our brief was to investigate, identify and evaluate potential opportunities for the site to switch to alternative fuels which would result in improvements in energy security, cost and environmental performance.

We investigated the use of HFO & Gas oil (current fuels) versus ultra light heating oil (ULHO), biofuel oil mixes, recycled fuel oil, mains natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and low carbon fuel sources including wood biomass pellet.

Due to the rural location of the site, mains natural gas was not a cost effective opportunity to implement; however we were able to prove a business case for the use of liquefied natural gas.

Liquefied natural gas or LNG is natural gas that has been converted temporarily to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. LNG takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state. It can then be transported by specially designed cryogenic sea vessels or cryogenic road tankers.

Currently LNG is principally used for transporting natural gas to markets, by sea where it is regasified and distributed as pipeline natural gas. Working with LNG suppliers we were able to demonstrate a practical method by which the fuel can safely and cost effectively be transported to site, regasified and burned in the boiler plant. This included advice on the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations which aim to prevent major accidents if you store significant quantities of dangerous substances on site.


The whole project cost savings are in the order of 25% of the existing fuel bill, with an associated carbon emissions reduction of over 30%. The company plans to implement the project across two phases in 2012 and 2013, supported by Carbon Architecture’s team.

Will Todd, Director at Carbon Architecture commented,

Working with Volac on this project has been exciting and rewarding. Their team is open minded and pro-active, and as such they have enabled the development of this opportunity which is amongst the first of its kind in British industry. Not only should this project reduce their carbon footprint and costs significantly, it should pave the way for other similarly constrained rural businesses to follow suit.

We are excited about continuing to develop our relationship with Volac through the development and implementation of this and other projects.

Johnathan Hogg, Factory Manager at Felinfach,

Carbon Architecture have provided us with expert advice across a number of projects at the design stage, which in turn has given us the confidence to make decisions in the knowledge that we have considered all aspects and potential options. All commitments to deliverables in terms of content and timescales have been met. The quality and experience of the various experts working with us on each project has been excellent.

Carbon Architecture have quickly gained an understanding of our business and our needs in terms of energy efficiency and site carbon emission reductions and we will certainly be using them again for help with future projects.


  • £1.25M Cost saving
  • 30% EU-ETS carbon emissions saving

About Dan Jackson

Dan Jackson is a process and sustainability consultant. He has experience in helping clients reduce energy and cost in the NHS and across the hospitality supply chain, from breweries to pubs.