The centre will act as a ‘clearing house’ with facilities to test, validate and certify new sustainable aviation fuels.
Jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Sheffield University, SAF-IC will be the first centre in Europe to be able to capture CO2, produce green hydrogen, convert them into sustainable aviation fuels and analyse their performance from a single location.
Described in the announcement as the ‘missing link’ to help bring sustainable aviation fuels to market, the clearing house facility aims to accelerate regulatory approvals of new fuels and give the UK certification capabilities.
Any new aviation fuel must undergo significant fit-for-purpose testing before it can be safely introduced to market. Technology and processes to produce sustainable fuels currently exist, but many producers, particularly SMEs, require support to scale up production and formally test their fuel.
SAF-IC will offer laboratory and testing space as well as coordination and networking facilities for the research and scaling-up of sustainable aviation fuels, working in combination with Sheffield University's neighbouring Translational Energy Research Centre.
“One of the most unique and critical aspects of SAF-IC is that the centre will be the first of its kind to research fuels which are made without any fossil fuels in the process, including understanding of how we can use bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to make a negative emissions fuel,” said professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, director of Sheffield University’s Energy Institute and managing director for SAF-IC.
“SAF-IC will help the UK to determine the best pathways to net zero aviation, and play a crucial role nationally and internationally in delivering truly sustainable flight.”
Work has begun on the centre, which is expected to be fully operational by July 2022.