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Univ. of Sheffield to set up SAF Innovation Centre in South Yorkshire, Europe

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The University of Sheffield has announced that it will set up a first-of-its-kind centre for research, innovation, and commercial testing of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in South Yorkshire, Europe.

The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC), part of the University's Energy Institute, will provide world-leading, state-of-the-art facilities to test, certify, and deploy new sustainable aviation fuels.

Jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Sheffield, the centre will be established at the University of Sheffield Innovation District and will act as a 'clearing house' with facilities to test, validate and certify new fuels.

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 analyze their performance all in one single location.

A clearinghouse is seen as the missing link to help producers of sustainable aviation fuels bring their products to market. Having such a facility in the UK will accelerate regulatory approvals of new fuels and give the UK certification capabilities.

SAF-IC will be a development hub for the research and scaling-up of sustainable aviation fuels, offering laboratory and testing space as well as coordination and networking facilities.

The facility will work in combination with the neighboring Translational Energy Research Centre - 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 ready sustainable aviation fuels for commercial use.

Sustainable aviation fuels are crucial to reducing the UK's carbon emissions. The UK aviation industry is responsible for around seven percent of total UK carbon emissions, and this number is growing fast. Nevertheless, aviation's dependence on fossil fuels makes it a challenging sector to decarbonize.

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

The SAF-IC will deeply invest in supporting SMEs in South Yorkshire as well as work with partners from the aviation industry locally, nationally, and internationally.

It will help to establish South Yorkshire as the leading R&D centre of excellence in sustainable aviation fuels. The facility will provide employment prospects, attract investment and work with the wider region to support innovation and growth in the area.

The work has already begun on the centre, which is expected to be fully operational by July 2022.

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Director of the University of Sheffield Energy Institute and Managing Director for SAF-IC said: "We are extremely excited to be establishing this state-of-the-art innovation centre in the heart of the University of Sheffield Innovation District. 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.

"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 improving understanding of how we can use bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to make a negative emissions fuel.

"SAF-IC will enable businesses and academics to drive forward their research and technology at a swift pace thanks to its technical and clearing house abilities, allowing the nation to work in line with the targets set by the Department for Transport for net-zero emissions from aviation by 2050."

Author : Moulin Oza
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