Construction concludes at sustainable aviation hub in Sheffield

The University of Sheffield’s new Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC) has reached a key milestone in its development.

Construction of the structure, led by main contractor Hobson and Porter, has been completed and will now proceed to the fit out and equipment installation phase.

The facility is scheduled to fully open in summer 2023.

Located in the University of Sheffield Innovation District, the new centre is intended to establish South Yorkshire as the UK’s leading place for R&D in sustainable aviation fuels.

SAF-IC is set to give the UK much-needed testing capabilities to help producers of sustainable aviation fuels bring their products to market.

The centre will help evaluate, test and characterise new fuels, with the broader goal of expediting regulatory approvals of new fuels and accelerating their widespread adoption.

‘Bespoke and highly technical elements’

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.”

The UK aviation industry is responsible for around seven per cent of total UK carbon emissions, and this number is growing fast.

The UK government acknowledged the importance of sustainable aviation by including ambitions for ‘jet zero’ in its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

Although it’s expected that new technologies will propel planes in the future, fuels made from sustainable materials such as agricultural waste and waste oils are widely considered one of the best currently available options to help the industry decarbonise.

Image: The University of Sheffield’s new Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (credit: University of Sheffield)


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