Rolls-Royce and easyJet announced the first-ever flight of a hydrogen-powered aircraft engine. The accomplishment follows the launch this year by the two firms to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen to power a variety of aircraft beginning in the middle of the 2030s.
Rolls-Chief Royce's Technology Officer, Grazia Vittadini, stated:
"This hydrogen test's success is an exciting milestone. We only announced our relationship with EasyJet in July, and we're already off to a phenomenal start with this milestone achievement. We are pushing the envelope to explore the zero-carbon potential of hydrogen, which could help transform the future of aviation."
The aviation industry has come under criticism as a large source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 2% to 3% of worldwide emissions; if no action is taken, this percentage might increase considerably over the following decades. Several programs are being explored to mitigate the climate impact of the aviation industry, often involving attempts to increase aircraft economy, produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), and design aircraft with low or zero-carbon propulsion systems, such as electric or hydrogen.
Hydrogen is seen by some in the industry as a more promising long-term alternative due to its potential to be produced through carbon-free technologies and its energy properties, including substantially more energy per weight than jet fuel.
Using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aviation engine and a source of green hydrogen from the EMEC, a ground test was done on an early concept demonstrator at an outdoor facility at MoD Boscombe Down in the United Kingdom (European Marine Energy Centre).
The European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) gave the test green hydrogen, which was made by wind and tide power.
Johan Lundgren, the chief executive officer of EasyJet, stated:
"This is a significant achievement for our cooperation team. We are determined to continue to fund this innovative research since hydrogen provides tremendous potential for various aircraft, including EasyJet-sized planes. That will be an enormous step toward addressing the objective of net-zero emissions by 2050."
The test follows recent commitments by both companies to support the decarbonization of air travel, including plans by Rolls-Royce to introduce low or zero-emission products, ranging from hydrogen fuel cells and microgrids to hybrid-electric and fully electric technologies, and the release of easyJet's net zero roadmaps this year, outlining the company's plan to address its climate impact and achieve net zero emissions flying by 2050.
The businesses stated that they will continue to design a series of rig tests prior to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine following the study of this preliminary concept ground test.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, stated:
"The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the global shift toward guilt-free flying, and today's test by Rolls-Royce and easyJet is an exciting example of how commercial innovation can improve the way we live. Today, the hydrogen used to power the jet engine is created using tidal and wind energy from the Orkney Islands in Scotland. This is a perfect example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner while creating jobs around the country.