Ryanair donates €1.5m to TCD for research on sustainable aviation fuels

New centre at Trinity will also look at zero-carbon aircraft propulsion and noise mapping

Trinity College Dublin will begin researching sustainable aviation fuels and zero-carbon flying with the aid of €1.5 million from Ryanair.

The initiative was announced on Thursday as Ryanair pledged to power 12.5 per cent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

The airline and the university said on Thursday that the Ryanair Sustainable Aviation Research Centre at Trinity would work on sustainable aviation fuel, zero-carbon aircraft propulsion and noise mapping.

Ryanair is donating €1.5 million to Trinity to help cover the cost of hiring six researchers for the centre, who will begin their work this summer.


Associate professor Stephen Dooley and Prof Stephen Spence will lead the research.

Prof Dooley said that the work would focus on developing the safety and technical qualities of sustainable fuels.

“The authorities are very conservative about what they certify – it takes several years for these fuels to get approved,” he noted.

He explained that Ryanair's investment would allow him to expand on work he has been doing on a small scale for several years and to engage with colleagues in the same field in Europe and the US.

Ryanair's director of sustainability, Thomas Fowler, said that the airline and Trinity hoped the work would help influence EU and international governments' policies.


He pointed out that individual countries had their own targets for sustainable aviation fuel use, and argued that there needed to be an overall EU approach if aviation was to play its part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Aviation fuel emits 89 grams of carbon dioxide for each unit of energy it generates. Sustainable fuel emissions vary from five grams to 65, according to Prof Dooley.

Ryanair aims to power one in eight of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

Mr Fowler explained that this, combined with its planned purchase of new Boeing 737 Max jets, which cut fuel consumption, would help lower its greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Mr Fowler described the initiative as hugely exciting. “This partnership with Trinity College Dublin seeks to inform and improve future investment by the aviation industry to secure a carbon-neutral future for aviation and noise reduction through investment in new technologies,” he added.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, the university's provost, said Trinity's scientists and engineers would "tackle important questions such as how to reduce aircraft emissions with sustainable aviation fuels, electric propulsion, and reduced noise".

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

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