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IMI electrolyzer boosts University of Sheffield’s development of sustainable aviation fuel

The University of Sheffield has successfully bolstered its efforts to decarbonize the aviation industry by increasing its green H2 production capacity, following the successful commissioning of a new polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer.

Designed and built by IMI Remosa, a subsidiary of IMI Critical Engineering, the new IMI VIVO electrolyzer, will be used to research new low- and zero-carbon fuels for use in commercial jet travel. It was supplied to the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre (SAF-IC) at the University’s Energy Innovation Centre in June 2023 and commissioned throughout the autumn and winter. 

With the IMI VIVO PEM electrolyzer now fully operational, the SAF-IC has become the first center in the UK with the capacity to produce, test, and validate new fuels from a single location.

As SAF-IC works closely with the neighboring Translation Energy Research Centre (TERC), which has its own H2-generating capabilities, the University of Sheffield is now the biggest producer of green H2 of any UK university. It can produce nearly 140 Nm3 of green H2 per hour and store up to 1,450 Nm3 – equivalent to the electricity required to power 200 homes.

Jackie Hu, CEO of Automation at IMI said, “Aviation is among one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize, however the work undertaken by the University of Sheffield and its SAF-IC is critical to moving the sector away from wholly relying on fossil fuels.

“The Centre is already among the leading producers of green H2 in the UK and we are incredibly proud the team have chosen to partner with IMI Remosa to continue their incredibly valuable research into resolving ones of transport’s largest sustainability challenges.”

The company’s new PEM electrolyzer uses a turnkey configuration, including a low-pressure storage system that was adapted for the university’s research. The green H2 it produces can replace natural gas, which will further aid the university’s work into industrial decarbonization and encourage further fuel switching in other sectors.

As Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Head of the University of Sheffield’s Energy Institute said, “We are thrilled to have the capacity to produce the highest volume of green H2 of any UK university so that our research and development into SAF, industrial fuel switching, and decarbonization can continue. As one of IMI Remosa's first major customers, we have found the team to be excellent partners and delivery has been very efficient.”

“In order to effectively phase out fossil fuels where we can, more research into the possibilities and capabilities of green H2 must be conducted. The PEM electrolyzer will allow us at the SAF-IC to work more closely with industry and fellow academics to discover and demonstrate how best to create both a H2 economy and a greener future.”