Rolls Royce, the manufacturer of both luxurious motorcars and commercial aviation jet engines, has completed its first test run of a hydrogen-powered jet engine.
To the astonishment of some readers, Rolls Royce is not only a luxury vehicle maker but also a leader in the commercial aviation industry. Specifically, the company designs and manufactures jet engines. And just as the Rolls Royce car brand has begun electrifying its lineup, Rolls Royce’s aircraft division hopes to de-carbonize its offerings with a new hydrogen jet technology which they have now completed a first test of via a partnership with EasyJet.
Rolls Royce completed the maiden test on the ground with a Rolls Royce AE 2100-A “regional aircraft engine.” According to Rolls Royce, this is the first-ever hydrogen-powered jet engine to do so. While the engine maker plans to do further testing on the hydrogen jet, including via flight tests, they didn’t specify when these tests would take place. The company specified that the hydrogen used in the test was “green hydrogen, ” created through electrolysis with electricity from renewable energy sources.
Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer of Rolls-Royce, said: “The success of this hydrogen test is an exciting milestone. We only announced our partnership with easyJet in July, and we are already off to an incredible start with this landmark achievement. We are pushing the boundaries to discover the zero carbon possibilities of hydrogen, which could help reshape the future of flight.”
Rolls Royce also explained that it is currently exploring numerous other options for future engine technology, including electric motors and engines that use “sustainable aircraft fuel” (SAF)/biofuel.
The aviation industry has come under fire in recent years due to the disproportionate amount of carbon emissions the industry creates. Hence, Rolls Royce and other manufacturers such as Airbus, General Electric, and CFM International have become dedicated to finding new fuel sources that can be put in place of current jet fuel to help mitigate emissions. However, many experts believe this will not be a quick transition due to the design changes that will have to be made to engines, aircraft, and airports.
Smaller startups, including Eviation, are betting on electric planes being able to help clean the industry. Still, due to their short range compared to gas alternatives, electric aircraft are far from universal acceptance.
It remains unclear which fuel source will become the de facto of the aviation industry, especially with so many valid options being pursued by many significant industry players. But at the very least, it is comforting and encouraging to see the continued investment into the future of air travel.
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