Mark Adair

'State of the art' aviation fuel testing centre takes off in Sheffield

Yorkshire based construction firm, Hobson & Porter, has completed work on The University of Sheffield’s state-of-the-art Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC), where new and sustainable aviation fuels will be tested before powering aircraft across the world.

The major new research centre is the first of its kind in the UK and will be used by producers of aviation fuels to test, characterise and deploy their latest products.

Hobson & Porter has now handed over the 6,600 sq ft facility, as part of a £2.6m contract. The development has been jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Sheffield. Specialist equipment is now being installed, with the centre scheduled to fully open in summer 2023.

It forms part of the University of Sheffield Energy Institute and is in the University of Sheffield Innovation District, which is home to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

Richard Hunter, managing director from Hobson & Porter, said: “This was our first project for the University of Sheffield and it’s been a superb development to work on. The centre incorporates an array of highly innovative and technical features including an aircraft auxiliary power unit acoustic test cell.

“Ultimately, this facility will now become the UK’s flagship testing centre for sustainable aviation fuels, which will help to reduce carbon emissions and play a vital role in the future of the aviation industry.”

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.

“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, such as a GCxGC, ToF-MS, and ICP-OES. 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 facility will work in combination 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 pioneering 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.

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