According to the Financial Times, Rolls-Royce plans to begin ground testing of two aircraft engines of its own production using hydrogen fuel. The first test will take place this year in the UK using the AE 2100 turboprop engine. Civil and military aircraft are equipped with such engines. A second test will take place later in the US with a Pearl 15 jet engine.
Rolls-Royce director of aerospace technology Alan Newby said in a statement that the tests “will allow early detection of some problems in the hydrogen combustion process.” The decision to conduct full flight tests will be made within the next two years.
So far, the company has been focusing instead of hydrogen on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which can significantly reduce aviation emissions in the short term. The first ever flight of an ATR 72-600 powered by SAF took place in Sweden in June.
Rolls-Royce has taken the decision to test hydrogen fuel at a time when the aviation industry is being criticized for excessive air pollution from modern aircraft. The number of flights and the level of emissions in 2022 increased after the removal of covid restrictions. According to forecasts by the consulting company IBA, carbon dioxide emissions will be 36% higher than last year, and by 2023 will be equal to pre-pandemic levels.
In this regard, the views of many industrial companies associated with the aviation industry are directed towards hydrogen engines. For example, Airbus aims to develop the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. The company even presented three design projects for environmentally friendly aircraft as part of the ZEROe concept.
Photo: This is what the Pearl 15 looks like