• Rolls Royce tries out the first aviation engine powered by hydrogen

Can you imagine getting on an aeroplane knowing there will be no greenhouse effect gasses generated? Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well , let us tell you, it is not something we are far from at the moment.

This week, Rolls Royce and Easyjet have, for the first time, carried out a ground test of which the very first engine to run exclusively on hydrogen will come out of. It´s a revolution to the aeronautical industry!

It’s a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A engine and the test took place at the Rolls Royce MoD Boscombe Down facilities, in U.K.

This test means an important step forward, for the two firms, in proving hydrogen may well become the fuel used in aviation in the future.

The Race to Zero Project

All this effort is part of the Race to Zero campaign in which Rolls Royce and Easyjet are committed to reaching zero net emissions in the year 2050.

The scope of the project is such, it has the backing of the United Nations, UN.

In the next part of the project, Pearl 15 engine trials will be done, used in jets such as Global 5500 and 6500.

Did you know…?

Fuel used for the trial was provided by EMEC, the European Marine Energy Centre, where totally green hydrogen, thanks to renewable energies, is produced.

The facilities at EMEC are located in the Orkney Islands, an archipelago in the northerly part of Scotland.

Types of hydrogen used as fuel

For engines not to pollute, they have to use green hydrogen, but are there different types of hydrogen? Yes, that ‘s right.

On the one hand, we call grey hydrogen to what is obtained from hydrocarbons through a vapor reforming technique or steam reforming. This hydrogen produces polluting gasses.

On the other hand, there is blue hydrogen, which is the one mostly used at present. This is made in the same way as the grey one, however, part of the greenhouse gasses are captured.

Finally, we have green hydrogen, which is the one used by Rolls Royce and as opposed to the previous ones, does not produce any greenhouse effect gasses. It is currently the most expensive to obtain but work is being done to reduce its cost.

Airbus is also working on hydrogen engines

Rolls Royce and Easyjet are not the only companies working on the development of engines that can run on hydrogen.

Airbus also thinks the process of decarbonising aviation can be done through the use of hydrogen and is focused on its project Zeroe, for which the first hydrogen flights are expected in 2035.

The project from Airbus goes even further, as it has already presented various models of aeroplanes, from turbohelixes to aeroplanes that can cross the Atlantic ocean. They aim, like this, to be able to cover all the needs of the industry.

Hydrogen engines, an almost tangible reality

Even though aeroplanes with zero net emissions are closer and closer to becoming real, there are still a few years to go before we see them soar the skies regularly.

For the time being, companies are going for SAF or Sustainable Aviation Fuel, or biofuels, in other words, fuel which is produced from vegetable oil and reduces carbon emissions over 60%.

We would like to finish this article by stressing the importance of the efforts being made by the aeronautical industry to reduce emissions. Yes, aeroplanes produce polluting emissions but in the last 20 years a massive revolution has started within it to prevent this from happening.

If you’d like to find out what other measures are being taken to reduce emissions, we recommend taking a look at our aviation blog.

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