Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Tracerco, in Billingham, unveils machine to stop illegal fuel trading
A LEADING Teesside technology company has launched one of the world's most advanced devices to combat the billion pound black market fuel industry.
Tracerco, based at Bellasis Park, in Billingham, has developed a revolutionary system which can test for illegal fuel on the roadside and at petrol stations.
The Nemesis machine analyses covert markers placed in petrol and diesel and will be used by police forces across the world to counter smuggling gangs and save government's billions of pounds in lost fuel tax.
In the UK, the most common form of illegal fuel trading comes when marker dyes are removed from rebated diesel, which is then sold on at full price.
However, bosses at the company, which started as a small research team at ICI Billingham in 1958, say the bespoke portable system will stop that because its unique fuel markers cannot be chemically washed out.
Andy Hurst, managing director of Tracerco, which employs more than 150 workers at its Billingham site, said the product had been refined during the last 10 years, and added it would be used across the world, including in countries such as Brazil, to catch criminals in the act.
He said: “Illegal fuel is a major problem across the world, but Nemesis allows for immediate testing which can detect and stop any criminal activity straight away.
“In the past we would have had to take samples away, but this system now means we can get out into the field and dissolve the crime at source.
“Police will be able to turn up at petrol stations in unmarked cars with the Nemesis in the back and then strike immediately if they see anyone suspicious.
“But because this can be powered by a car battery, it can also be used in remote locations.
“This is world leading British technology produced in the North-East and we hope it will play a major part in helping governments across the globe in the fight against the illegal fuel trade.”
Tracerco, which is run by chemical specialist Johnson Matthey, also makes radiation monitors, and has received a number of awards in the past for its work.
In 2009, it won its third Queen's Award for Enterprise in recognition of its development, export and innovation in its radiation work.
Johnson Matthey runs operations in more than 30 countries and employs about 10,000 people.