The BCGA Annual Conference 2018 has this evening drawn to a close in Leeds, UK, providing attendees with a wide-ranging and very interesting speaker programme that explored the latest developments and current issues facing the industry.

The Oulton Hall in West Yorkshire was the venue for another impressive gathering of the BCGA (British Compressed Gases Association), with around 140 delegates understood to be in attendance at this year’s conference.

The event is the association’s opportunity to once again promote safety in the use, transportation and handling of gases across a plethora of applications. In the words of BCGA Chief Executive Doug Thornton, “the whole purpose of BCGA is to encourage safety in the handling, use, transportation and storage of industrial, medical and food gases, which we do, not only through the guidance documents we write and our website content, but also by proactively engaging with and hopefully influencing everyone involved with gases, including our regulatory authorities.”

President-Elect, Tim Hulbert, echoed this in his opening address, commenting, “The BCGA truly represents our industry, and it’s our industry in the full sense of the word. It’s the full supply chain, the diversity of all the companies that come together to enable our industry to safely offer the products, the services and the expertise that the UK plc depends upon.”

He continued, “In our day-to-day lives, we’re each other’s suppliers, customers, even competitors, but when we meet as the BCGA and we walk through that door, we leave our company affiliations behind and we come together to make sure that we stay at the forefront of best safety practice.”


From there, the day’s progressive agenda began to unfold, beginning with a Technical Committee (TC) report from BCGA Technical Manager, Jake Lake and some of the BCGA sub technical committee representatives, Darren Pick, Steve Corner and David Hurren.

This section provided an overview of the key changes from the various technical and sub technical committees and their important achievements made over the last twelve months.

Lake stated, “since the last conference, the TC has continued its management role over the Association’s technical activities. This last year has been very busy, but successful, and so far, 2018 looks no different.”

The BCGA has been involved in a number of significant projects this year, including continuing the promotion of its ‘Invisible Industry’ which aims to make the public aware of the positive work carried out by the gases industry and highlight how industrial, medical and food gases are essential to the existence and wellbeing of thousands of people every day.

It is estimated that to-date, BCGA articles have been reproduced in around 200 trade magazines and websites.

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Biomethane – a very broad and deep subject

Ian Davies, Managing Director for The Industrial Gas Projects House, went on to discuss biomethane – production, applications and incentives for producers and users. With an ever-growing demand for environmentally friendly, alternative energy, Davies’ presentation explored the viability of biomethane as one of these potential sources.

He provided an interesting statistic, “the UK produces more than 62 million tonnes of manure per year which is about 40 KW hours per tonne. Forecast electricity generation from this source from 2020, is somewhere between 3000 and 5000 GW.”

He continued, “biogas is the emissions from anaerobic degradation of organic matter from plants, food and animal waste. Biogas is principally 60% methane and 39% carbon dioxide. Biogas in its raw form can be used to generate electricity, and when cleaned and compressed it can be used for gas to grid.”s


Sport physical therapist for ProCare, Pat Viroux, then took to the stage to explain how whole-body-cryotherapy (WBC) – which utilises cryogenic liquid nitrogen – is an effective and safe treatment method.

He explained, “whole-body-cryotherapy is a non-invasive therapy consisting of short bursts of extreme cold to the outer surface of the body to stimulate physiological reactions.”

WBC is now entering the beauty, medical, and sports and fitness markets and is being used for faster athletic recovery; reduction of pain and inflammation; beauty and anti-aging; decreased stress; libido boost; full body detox and accelerated metabolic rate for weight loss – among many other uses.

“Helping you stay safe on Britain’s roads”

Up next, was Philip Lapczuk, Product Specialist for Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, presenting current enforcement activities, common prohibitions, and latest figures for the current year.

He said, “A quarter of the vehicles out on the roads (23.52%) that carry dangerous goods, have some form of prohibition.”

The top 5 offences include:

  • None or inadequate fire extinguishers
  • No instructions in writing
  • Load in scope, no markings
  • Fire extinguishers not readily available

Lapczuk continued, “85% of prohibitions are driver related and all of these are preventable. With the right systems and procedures in place, there won’t be any problems. If a driver does a proper walk round check, to check his extinguishers, to check his equipment, to make sure he’s got the proper documentation, then there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“What can we do together? Firstly, it is important that drivers are correctly trained and that employers know their responsibilities. What can we do? Next week, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency is launching ‘Road Recognition’. This is where, as part of the audit process, the agency makes sure that when the drivers are going out, that the operators have systems in place ensuring that they have all the equipment there. If there’s any problems this can then be reported,” he explained.

Stack-emission monitoring

It was then over to Simon Medhurst, Consultant for Source Testing Association, who gave an overview of stack-emission monitoring and the need for reliable data. He explained the reasons for performing stack-emission monitoring, the applicable legislation, regulations and standards, practical issues such as typical equipment, working environments and the use of compressed gases in the field.


Chairman Darren Pick, Praxair Gases, UK Ltd TSC4 discussed planes, trains and trucks. TSC4 is responsible for all matters relating to transport where it involves the carriage of gases. This includes the design of vehicles, their operation, and all matters relating to transport legislation.

Pick stated, “We aim to promote and establish common best practice on all matters relating to transport among our member companies, and the gases industry in general.”

“it’s a very difficult and risky work environment. 90% of the accidents reported last year involved transport. Most of us have driven on those roads to be here today. You can see the challenges it poses with much of our infrastructure going into B roads and A roads that are running beyond there designed capacity.”

He continued, “It’s very important that we consider the design of the vehicles, the training of the people that operate this piece of equipment and how we approach that in the day-today transportation of those cash products.”


Steve Corner, BOPC-Linde and member of TSC6, the committee responsible for all matters related to hydrogen and other alternative gaseous fuels, explained that TSC6 is in the process of developing a new document on the use of gases which will provide useful advice on the safe and responsible use of gases and help to counter many of the concerns the industry has about those who misuse and abuse gases.


David Hurren, BCGA Chairman of TSC9 andCEO of Air Liquide’s Advanced Business and Technology UK business focusing on biomethane gas to grid projects, provided an overview of the work activities within TSC9 expanding on the building blocks established through BCGA encouraging the transition to gaseous fuels in a safe and sustainable way to power all our future’s.


Next, Matt Hinde, Director of Energy for FleishmannHillard Brussels, turned the focus to Brexit, asking the question ‘What does it look like from the EU perspective?’

This discussion takes place approximately 12 months after the triggering of Article 50 by the British government and examined the latest situation, and how this will impact on the Industrial gases sector in the future. In particular, the session covered how the rest of the EU is viewing the situation, and the potential implications for the industrial gases sector across the EU.

Cleaning up rogue trade

With a number of serious incidents involving gas cylinders in the hospitality industry in recent years, it was important that Amanda Cockton, Senior Inspector for HSE, gave some attention to the typical problems encountered by the industry and how compliance could be improved. The presentation began by highlighting the common problem of the cylinder being filled through to use on the licensed premises.

She said, “It’s so important that cylinders have clear identification markings. The concern isn’t theft, it’s how the cylinders are treated after they’ve left their owner.”

The Future

Following a delicious lunch, delegates reconvened to hear Toyota’s Fleet Marketing Manager, Jon Hunt, give an overview from the car manufacturer’s perspective, of the growing use of hydrogen in the automotive sector and beyond. He covered how the company sees technology, regulatory and market developments to date and over the coming years. He explained how government strategy and support, both for vehicles and filling infrastructure, will play against further development of fuel cell technology and production capacity, the relative demands of different global markets and consumer uptake of these zero emissions vehicles.

Hunt explained, “The production of hydrogen through many different sources, in relation to vehicles, requires fuelling stations, but that hydrogen can be used in lots of different ways. You can produce that hydrogen in the UK today with very little extra energy investment. In fact, last year we wasted about 1.5 terawatt hours of energy in the UK. That means we have the potential to produce 27,000 tonnes of hydrogen which would refuel 135,000 vehicles to do 12,000 miles each. We don’t need more energy to produce more hydrogen.”

An example of the Toyota Mirai FCEV car was also present at the conference for delegates to view.

The Toyota Mirai FCEV

The Toyota Mirai FCEV

The finale

Media medic and GP Dr. Pixie McKenna stepped up as the finale speaker for the 2018 conference. Best known as the presenter of Channel 4’s primetime, BAFTA-winning medical series Embarrassing Bodies’, Pixie has seen every condition imaginable…and unimaginable.

Having trained as a doctor and practiced as a GP, she moved into TV to share her experience and knowledge of sexual health, dermatology, women’s health and health promotion with viewers.

From Embarrassing Bodies to Health Freaks on Channel 4, Embarrassing Illnesses and Freaky Eaters, Pixie has become the UK guru of ailments and conditions that are somewhat outside the ordinary.

At today’s event, the audience had the ‘pleasure’ of hearing some of her most memorable stories. She also gave them some practical advice for spotting symptoms and plucking up the courage to book an appointment with their GP. After all, in the words of Dr. Pixie, “we have seen it all before!”

It was then down to Hulbert to provide the President’s closing remarks and officially bring the curtain down on the day’s events.

He said, “I have been astounded by the breadth of presentations that we’ve heard here today. It’s been an incredible opportunity for all of us and I think we’ve probably all learnt at least one new thing that we didn’t know before. I think we’ve also had a vision of the future regarding alternative fuels that are both exciting and challenging. As an industry, I think we have a lot of expertise, tools and people that will allow us to really make a difference in a lot of areas.”

The BCGA has also confirmed that next year’s event will be held on 11th April (2019) at the Marriott Hotel and Country Club at Worsley Parkin Manchester.

Speaker and delegates alike will reunite this evening for the BCGA’s reception and Annual Dinner, where they can reflect on the high quality, packed agenda.


A full review of the day’s events will be published in the upcoming June issue of gasworld magazine.

For more information, contact or follow updates throughout the day on Twitter (@jemimaowenjone1).