Construction of predictive models for pre-screening of sustainable aviation fuels


Supervisors: Dr Ehsan Alborzi and Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian.

The utilisation of novel Sustainable Aviation Fuels, as a blend or standalone replacement of petroleum-based fuels, in the aviation sector is subject to a challenging, and stringent multi-stage approval process, requiring tests that exceed millions of pounds, tens of thousands of litres of fuel, years of testing, and sustained commitment of resources for fuel producers.

ASTM methods such as D1655, D7566 and D4054 have been prepared to provide acceptable ranges for fuel properties to qualify for safe engine operations. However, testing required by the ASTM methods are often limited by lack of testing facilities, and above all, lack of a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the chemical composition on the qualifying properties.

The certified blending ratios allow these fuels to exist within the certification boundaries dictated by ASTM methods. However, uncertainties still exist regarding the maximum blending ratios and the limiting properties of alternative fuel blends. In this regard, the determination of the maximum allowable fraction of the alternate fuel that would still satisfy certifying requirements, and perhaps increase specific fuel performance, is of high interest.

We are seeking a motivated PhD candidate with solid background in any of the following disciplines: mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry or applied mathematics. The selected candidate will work alongside our team of experts in Sustainable Aviation Fuel-Innovation Center (SAF-IC) at the University of Sheffield, on construction of predictive models for correlation between fuel chemical compositions and a number of properties, with a focus on blend optimisation.

The selected PhD candidate will use a number of numerical and experimental techniques, such as machine learning, two-dimensional gas chromatography, as well as test equipment for quantification of basic physico-chemical properties of aviation fuels.

The PhD programme will start in September 2022.

For informal enquiries contact Dr Ehsan Alborzi (

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