Showcasing industrial innovations for sustainable fuels

13 March 2023

The University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC),  Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) and the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC), hosted Boeing and University of Oxford spin-out company OXCCU, at a showcase event to discuss the pathway to a sustainable fuels future. 

The development of zero carbon aviation fuels presents an economic opportunity for the whole supply chain, and the UK is uniquely placed to build on these opportunities as a result of the facilities at the University of Sheffield, which offers essential translational capabilities which will enable zero carbon fuels to become a reality.

Talks were delivered by CEO of the AMRC, Steven Foxley, managing director of TERC and SAF-IC, Prof Mohamed Pourkashanian, Steven Gillard, Boeing UK and Ireland sustainability director and Andrew Symes, CEO of University of Oxford spin-out company OXCCU, which aims optimise the catalyst performance and highlight the advantages of a catalyst to create green fuel for the aviation sector through carbon capture.

Steven Foxley, CEO of the AMRC, which is part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, opened the event and outlined the challenges that lie ahead, adding: “There is currently no single solution for aerospace to hit its net zero targets, and it is the hardest sector to decarbonise. We’re going to need electric, hydrogen, hybrid, sustainable aviation fuels and we need to lightweight aircraft - and the UK has a significant role to play in developing innovation in this space.

“We need to create innovations now so that we are ready to deploy the manufacturing processes we need in the future. It is a super exciting time, and manufacturing has a huge responsibility as part of the pathway to net zero.” 

The event also highlighted the challenges, potential solutions and ambitions of the future fuels network, as well as the technical advancements needed to get there. 

Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, added: “This event brought together partners from across the entire aviation sector, and presented an opportunity to collaboratively discuss the future of alternative and sustainable fuels, the challenges of which, and opportunities they will bring, will shape the decarbonisation of this vital part of daily life.

“We were pleased to welcome guests from all parts of the aviation supply chain, and also our partner Boeing, to hear about the fantastic facilities here at the University of Sheffield.”

In July last year, Boeing became the founding member of the University of Sheffield’s Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), which includes access to SAF-IC and TERC facilities - leading the way for the company to help develop and scale the SAF market. 

At the event, Steven Gillard, Boeing UK and Ireland Sustainability Director, outlined Boeing’s journey towards net zero aviation, adding: “Boeing has a long proud history in South Yorkshire, having established the AMRC with the University of Sheffield in 2001. This partnership was a key driver in opening our first manufacturing site in Europe here in 2018.

“Boeing continues to reap the rewards of being part of an advanced manufacturing hub here, benefitting from close ties with research and academia and the expertise of our supply chain, while supporting economic growth and employment opportunities in the local area. South Yorkshire has a key role to play in the journey to net zero aviation and we are delighted to continue working with our partners here towards that goal.”

The talks were followed by a panel discussion about the barriers and opportunities involved in reaching the UK Government’s mandate of 10% SAF by 2030. As well as the speakers, the panel also included Alastair Hobday, Associate Fellow for Fuels and Lubricants at Rolls Royce. 

To finish off the event, tours of TERC, SAF-IC and the host location, the AMRC’s Factory 2050 site, all world-leading facilities were also held. 

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