Milestone reached for new sustainable aviation fuels innovation centre

A major research centre that will help test, certify and deploy new sustainable aviation fuels – the first of its kind in the UK – has reached a key milestone in its construction.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC), part of the University of Sheffield Energy Institute, is set to give the UK testing capabilities to help producers of sustainable aviation fuels bring their fuels to market.

Jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Sheffield, construction of the centre has been completed, and the equipment installation phase will now begin.

Development of the inside of the facility is still ongoing, with the centre scheduled to fully open in summer 2023.

Located in the University of Sheffield Innovation District, home to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the new centre is intended to establish South Yorkshire as the UK’s leading place for R&D in sustainable aviation fuels.

It will work with the neighbouring Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) – a national pilot-scale testing facility that is also part of the University of Sheffield – to support state-of-the-art research and provide much-needed testing capabilities to help prepare sustainable aviation fuels for commercial use.

Together with TERC, SAF-IC will be the first centre in the UK to be able to capture CO₂, produce green hydrogen, convert them into sustainable aviation fuels and analyse their performance all in one single location.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, managing director of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre and director of the University of Sheffield Energy Institute, said: “It is fantastic to see the progress of the construction of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre, which has been a smooth and efficient process thanks, in part, to our contractors, Hobson and Porter.

“The building includes some bespoke and highly technical elements, such as an APU acoustic test cell and a high-pressure high temperature combustion test cell.

“SAF-IC has been built with specialist elements to facilitate hydrogen, zero carbon fuels and advanced combustion research, all of which will help us to carry out vital testing.

“Our SAF characterising laboratory will provide fast, cost effective and unique capabilities for testing new fuels, with the state-of-the-art equipment that no other academic research centre has.

“Now we will begin the exciting process of installing cutting-edge equipment which will help to make this centre a unique and vital asset to the UK’s aviation industry.”