Rolls-Royce and easyJet achieve a world first for sustainable aviation
On 28 November, Rolls-Royce and easyJet confirmed they successfully ran an aircraft engine on green hydrogen. This is understood to be a world first for the aviation industry.
Back in July 2022, the pair announced their partnership for developing hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft. Since then, the companies have been trying to prove that hydrogen can safely deliver power for civil aero engines.
When hydrogen is used to generate electricity or combusted for motive power, the only waste product is water. Provided the hydrogen used is generated by renewable sources, it can offer a tangible reduction in emissions. In fact, hydrogen has previously been described by Grazia Vitaldini, Chief Technology Officer at Airbus as “one of the most promising technology vectors to allow mobility to continue fulfilling the basic human need for mobility in better harmony with our environment.”
Detailed in the press release, the test took place at an outdoor facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. The green hydrogen was supplied by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre) generated by renewable energy at their hydrogen production and tidal test facility.
Thrilled by the milestone the pair had reached and its significance for the environment, Johan Lundgren, CEO easyJet said:
“This is a real success for our partnership team. We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft. That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.”
Committed to reducing emissions, developments in technology harnessing the power of hydrogen have been closely watched by the aviation industry. This breakthrough by easyJet and Rolls-Royce is therefore of great significance.
One of the other key developments that the industry has set its sights on for reducing overall carbon emissions is sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). Watch an interview with the President of Shell Aviation here discussing SAF.
Article by Jess Brownlow