The first centre in the UK to develop, test, validate and work towards certification of new zero carbon and sustainable aviation fuels all in one place.
The challenge: reliance on fossil fuels
Sustainable aviation fuels are vital to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions. The UK aviation industry is responsible for around seven per cent of total UK carbon emissions, and this number is growing fast. However, aviation’s reliance on fossil fuels makes it a challenging sector to decarbonise.
Additionally, producing SAFs and bringing them to market is challenging, as they are subject to tighter standards and regulations before they can be approved for use. New SAF options may require a large number of tests, which can cost millions of pounds, tens of thousands of litres of fuels, years of testing and ongoing commitment of resources for fuels from SAF producers.
The solution: making sustainable aviation fuels a reality
Using Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), instead of and blended with current fuels, offers a solution for making flights more sustainable, and helping to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
However, producing SAFs and bringing them to market is challenging, as they are subject to tighter standards and regulations before they can be approved for use. New SAF options may require a large number of tests, which can cost millions of pounds, tens of thousands of liters of fuels, years of testing and ongoing commitment of resources for fuels from SAF producers.
To significantly reduce the costs, fuel usage and time it takes to test SAFs, SAF-IC offers:
- Pre-screening methods that can provide feedback and facilitate fuel producer chemical process modelling, which will de-risk the development of new fuels and technologies
- The capability for large scale experimental testing for fit-for-purpose properties such as aviation fuel thermal thermal stability, material compatibility and combustion and emissions in order to provide a complete assessment of sustainable aviation fuels.
- Support to producers and users of sustainable aviation fuels in working towards approving their products for application in the aviation sector
- Laboratory facilities
- Coordination and networking facilities
Working alongside the Translational Energy Research Centre
SAF-IC is part of the University of Sheffield Innovation District, and is a sister centre to the neighbouring Translational Energy Research Centre.
The two facilities will work in collaboration, with SAF-IC drawing on the capabilities of the Centre to produce, test and analyse a range of sustainable fuels, and its flexible plug-and-play approach to pilot-scale testing.
The Translational Energy Research Centre can both produce and examine SAFs, which can then be directly investigated, tested and validated at SAF-IC.
For production, the facility hosts two promising conversion routes for SAF production, i.e Power to Liquids (PtL) and Biomass to Liquids (BtL). In the PtL process CO2 along with H2 are converted to syngas in a Reverse Water Gas Shift (RWGS) reactor, and subsequently syngas is converted to jet fuel in a Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor. In the BtL process biomass is gasified to produce syngas followed by conversion to jet fuel in the FT reactor.
Subsequent to the production of SAF, we can then investigate combustion performance in a gas turbine engine as well as emission characteristics using a Honeywell 131_9 series Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). SAF fuel emission characteristics include particulate matter measurements and gaseous emission speciation. Find out more about the specific equipment we have at the Translational Energy Research Centre here.
Our areas of expertise
SAF-IC is home to several of the foremost experts in sustainable aviation fuels. Their knowledge and expertise covers the full SAF process, from the options for producing and generating the fuels themselves to fuel system design, hardware, modelling and testing.
Our facility also offers capabilities in validating and assessing the technical suitability of SAFs, as well as investigating performance and emissions characteristics. The centre has been designed to help ensure new and existing fuels are in line with ASTM 4054.
Our academics and technicians, led by Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, are world experts in their field. Their knowledge of complex areas of research and their applications in industry and society means we can work together with you to achieve your R&D goals that help us all to reach net-zero carbon emissions and find sustainable energy solutions for our planet.
Further areas of expertise include:
- Designing and developing future gas turbine combustion systems
- Installing, commissioning and modifying SAF-related experimental facilities
- Effects of sustainable fuels on combustion, emissions, seals performance, vibrations and acoustic
- Hydrogen combustion
- Combustion dynamics
- Developing low- and high-fidelity numerical simulation codes for investigating fluid flow and heat transfer
- Aviation lubricant thermal degredation and deposition
- Aerospace elastomers
- Turbulence modelling
- Aerodynamic passive and active flow control
- Plasma modelling
- Chemical kinetics and quantum chemistry
- Detailed and reduced predictive models for fuel thermal oxidative stability and surface carbonaceous deposits in aero-engine fuel injection systems
- Surface carbonaceous deposition
Opportunities for you through SAF-IC
Many producers of sustainable aviation fuels and related technologies, especially SMEs, require support to scale up production and formally test fuels and hardware related to fuel systems. SAF-IC will provide this support with access to collaboration space, world-leading next-generation equipment and the expertise needed to carry out all of the key stages of the testing process required to formalise a new fuel as well as to assess the operability of hardware with SAFs.
Our research expertise and state-of-the-art facilities will enable you to test, develop, investigate, validate and certify your fuel, giving valuable insight into fuel chemistry, as well as fuel systems performance and more at a fraction of the cost and time compared to full scale engine testing.
Part of an Innovation District
The University of Sheffield Innovation District also includes other world-leading research facilities, including the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Nuclear AMRC, Factory 2050 and the Royce Translational Centre.
SAF-IC is part of the University of Sheffield’s Energy Institute. The Energy Institute highlights the work of over 300 researchers across a wide variety of disciplines who focus on the generation and use of energy and its implications. The Energy Institute has access to some of the best minds in energy research, as well as access to successful industry partnerships with global companies such as Siemens Gamesa, Boeing and McLaren.