Decarbonizing Air Travel – Rolls-Royce Tests the World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Jet Engine

By: | December 4th, 2022

Image Credit Rolls-Royce

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.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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