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Used to refuel hydrogen-powered cars, the station is operated by industrial gases company BOC, a member of The Linde Group, at the Honda manufacturing facility in Swindon. The venture is the result of a partnership between Honda, BOC and economic development company Forward Swindon.

Signs Express were tasked with the design and specification of a complex screen to hide the mechanics of the station which included a compressor, a heat exchanger and associated pipe work fitted behind the fuel dispenser. A large 180o opening gate provides access to the hydrogen cylinders. Steel and aluminium were used throughout to minimise fire risk.
Honda BOC refuelling stationHonda BOC refuelling station
The project was technically challenging as the owner of Signs Express Sheffield, Steve Morris, explains; 'We provided a complete service from surveying the site, design and specification of materials as well as manufacture and a full installation service within a tight timeframe - everything had to be ready for the official opening on 20th September. The finished station has a dual purpose - safe and secure fuel dispensing with the addition of promotional graphics to advertise the businesses behind the initiative.'

Steve continued, 'Spanning 15m long, 1m wide and 2.4m high, accuracy in installation was crucial to the success of the project. Graphics application was completed offsite but since the design runs continuously across a number of panels there was no margin for error: the graphics had to register perfectly when installed. The fixing of panels and supporting structure had to be absolutely in line with our drawings and specifications for a flush finish in all directions. A great deal of thanks go to my skilled sign makers who responded to the challenge of this demanding but very rewarding project.'

The new refuelling station is open to anyone using or developing hydrogen-powered vehicles. It looks like a conventional petrol station and a car takes about the same time to fill. Hydrogen has huge potential as a sustainable transport fuel, creating no emissions other than water vapour.

Located half way along the M4 between London and Swansea, the Swindon station is the first open-access refuelling station in the UK. As a fully operational, commercial scale station using tested technology, it is only a matter of time before the station is replicated in other locations across the country, encouraging the more widespread take-up of hydrogen-powered transport.

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