Tarmac first in UK to trial carbon-reducing biomethane fuel in HGVs for construction materials

August 7, 2023

In a UK first for the construction materials sector, Tarmac, a CRH company, has trialled the use of biomethane fuel in a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) as part of the company’s ongoing drive to reach net zero. 

The three week-long trial was carried out in June and July this year in partnership with CNG Fuels, the leading supplier of renewable and sustainable biomethane fuel for commercial vehicles in the UK. The trial tested the range of a 44 tonne HGV hauling a bulk cement tanker.

Biomethane is a renewable fuel produced from sustainable feedstocks, recovering waste generated from other industries. This makes it an environmentally-friendly alternative to diesel in powering vehicles for commercial use, which has the potential to deliver a net reduction of up to 90% in CO emissions. The production of biomethane is increasing in the UK, and there is a network of fuelling stations across the country.   

Ben Garner, senior manager of logistics development at Tarmac, said: “This trial of biomethane fuel in an HGV represents another important step in our transition to net zero logistics.  

“Tarmac is dedicated to innovating through trialling low carbon transport and logistics solutions. While the end goal is to electrify our fleet or to use low carbon fuels like hydrogen, we need to look at sustainable alternative fuels that we can start using sooner. Partnering with CNG Fuels on this trial demonstrates what we can achieve by working with the logistics sector to reach net zero emissions.” 

CNG trucks that use biomethane fuel use similar technology to traditional diesel-powered vehicles and only require a small amount of training for drivers. During the trial, drivers found that using biomethane could even deliver additional benefits including reduced vibrations in the cabin. 

Tarmac’s Tunstead site was chosen as the location for the trial due to the undulating landscape of the Peak District. This tested the HGV’s ability to navigate steep, uneven terrain. Tarmac will look at the full results of the trial to assess the potential for biomethane fuel to be used as an alternative to diesel in other HGVs.

This latest trial is another step towards Tarmac’s aim to reach net zero by 2050, as part of the company’s net zero roadmap and its sustainability strategy, Act, which was published in 2021.  

Tarmac previously trialled the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel in its bulk cement tankers driving out of Northfleet. Like the biomethane HGV trial, this helped to demonstrate the ways biofuels can support the decarbonisation of Tarmac’s logistics solutions.  

In addition to exploring the use of alternative fuels, the company has signed up to the EV100 scheme to transition all its car and van fleet to electric by 2030 and runs the UK’s first electric concrete mixer from its Birmingham plant. It also recently signed Logistics UK’s Route to Net Zero pledge. 

To find out more about Tarmac’s commitments to decarbonise, the company’s net zero roadmap is available here: https://www.tarmac.com/net-zero-roadmap/