The engine test was progressed through a partnership between Rolls-Royce and easyJet who, earlier this year, committed to working together on a hydrogen technology demonstrator programme. Today, the companies confirmed they have set a new aviation milestone with the world’s first run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen.
The ground test took place at an outdoor test facility at Boscombe Down, UK, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional jet engine. Green hydrogen for the test was supplied by EMEC, produced using renewable energy at their hydrogen production facility in Eday, Orkney, and then transported via ferry to the UK mainland in a mobile hydrogen storage trailer.
The test is a key proof point in the decarbonisation strategies of both Rolls-Royce and easyJet. Both companies have set out to prove that hydrogen can safely and efficiently deliver power for civil aero engines and are already planning a second set of tests, with a longer-term ambition to carry out flight tests.
Following analysis of this early concept ground test, the partnership plans a series of further rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine.
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, said:
“Today’s 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.”
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, 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.”
Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC, said:
“It’s exciting to see this demonstration by Rolls-Royce and easyJet using hydrogen produced from renewable energy harnessed in Orkney. Congratulations to all of the teams involved.
“The future energy mix will require multiple clean sources and our hydrogen R&D is focused on testing where hydrogen is best applied to aid the transition. It’s encouraging to collaborate with organisations that are exploring ways to move away from fossil fuels. With influential companies like Rolls-Royce testing technologies that use zero-carbon fuels, this should help to accelerate the decarbonisation of the industry.”
The Rolls-Royce and easyJet partnership is inspired by the global, UN-backed Race to Zero campaign that both companies have signed up to, committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.