Rolls-Royce and easyJet have conducted tests of a modern jet engine powered by hydrogen. The ground test using green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power is believed to be a world first.
According to Rolls-Royce, the tests mark a major step towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero-carbon aviation fuel of the future and is a key proof point in the decarbonization strategies of both companies.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, said: “The UK is leading the global shift to guilt-free flying, and the test by Rolls-Royce and easyJet is an exciting demonstration of how business innovation can transform the way we live our lives.
“This is a true British success story, with the hydrogen being used to power the jet engine today produced using tidal and wind energy from the Orkney Islands of Scotland – and is a prime example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner while driving jobs across the country.”
The test took place at an outdoor test facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. Green hydrogen for the tests was supplied by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), generated using renewable energy at its hydrogen production and tidal test facility on Eday in the Orkney Islands, UK.
Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, 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.”
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, added: “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.”
Following analysis of the ground test, the two companies are believed to be planning a series of further tests leading up to a full-scale test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine.
The partnership is inspired by the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign, to which both Rolls-Royce and easyJet have signed up for, committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.