Innovation That Matters

The tests have shown that green hydrogen can be used to power civil aero engines safely and efficiently | Photo source Rolls-Royce

A hydrogen-powered jet engine 

Mobility & Transport

Rolls Royce and easyJet have successfully tested a jet engine that runs solely on carbon-free hydrogen

Spotted: Around the world, the aviation industry is responsible for around 2.1 per cent of human-induced carbon dioxide. Although this sector has made massive leaps in cutting its emissions over time, it is clear we still need to make radical changes to reach zero carbon. Pursuing this change are Rolls-Royce and easyJet, who are testing the possibility of replacing kerosene with an eco-alternative. This alternative is green hydrogen, which has recently proven itself successful by powering a modern aero engine for the first time. The early concept test took place on the ground at an outdoor test facility at MoD Boscombe Down in the UK.

The breakthrough, hailed as an ‘aviation milestone,’ is an important early step towards hydrogen-powered modern jet aircraft. The hydrogen from the test was produced using a process called steam-methane reforming, which heats natural gas with steam to make carbon monoxide and hydrogen. What earns this process its green reputation is that the energy used to heat the gas and steam is supplied by wind and tidal power, both renewable and reliable sources.

Commenting on the success, Grazi Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer at 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.

Following the positive first set of tests, both companies are already planning a second set of tests, with a long-term ambition to carry out flight tests.

Springwise has recently spotted other innovations aimed at making flying more environmentally friendly, including an electric plane, and a new material that makes aeroplane interiors 100% recyclable.

Written By: Georgia King



Download PDF