Aviation is one of the leading contributors and fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming.
However, the aviation industry has now taken a step towards decarbonizing air travel.
British brand Rolls-Royce has powered a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A turboprop engine using hydrogen as an alternative fuel, a first in the aviation world.
Rolls Royce and its test partner EasyJet have run the commercial aircraft engine on renewably made green hydrogen in what they claim is a “world first”. The hydrogen-powered jet engine was trialed in a ground test at the UK Defence Ministry’s Boscombe Down aircraft testing site.
Though the technology is still in its infancy, the hydrogen-powered jet engine is considered an early concept demonstrator to prove that hydrogen can be a safe and efficient zero-carbon fuel for civil aviation.
Both partners are now planning future tests, starting with further ground tests before they move on to carrying out test flights.
This early concept demonstrates a landmark achievement and a crucial step toward the decarbonization of the industry. However, using hydrogen as an alternative to jet fuel will take a lot of time. Aircraft manufacturers would need to heavily redesign the aircraft to create the capacity to carry enough hydrogen required to make their long journeys.