An Aviation Landmark For Rolls-Royce And easyJet

In a world first, the duo test-run a hydrogen-powered aero engine.

Like battery-powered vehicles, hydrogen-propelled solutions have had their fair share of challenges. That said, the latter does have a big plus in its arsenal. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. And because our solar system’s sun runs on it, the periodic table’s first element is essentially a critical ingredient for life on Earth.

So, if it can power humans to survive, why not our transportation system? We’ve already seen examples of hydrogen-powered vehicles on land. What about air travel? Well, it has made a mark there as well, albeit in controlled conditions. Rolls-Royce and easyJet recently confirmed that they have successfully tested a modern aero engine with hydrogen as the fuel. This is an astonishing piece of development. And it is a world first.

The test was conducted at an outdoor facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK, using a modified Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A aircraft engine. Green hydrogen for the tests was provided by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre). Green? That’s because the hydrogen was generated using renewable energy (wind and tidal power) at EMEC’s production and tidal test plant on Eday in the Orkney Islands, UK.

Here’s what Grazia Vittadini, who is the chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce, said about this feat:

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, the CEO at easyJet, added his comments. He 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.

Both easyJet and Rolls-Royce are committed to proving that hydrogen can play a crucial role in the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. The duo plan to run a series of further rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engine, which belongs to the turbofan family. 

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