Rolls-Royce claims to have made a significant breakthrough in the development of new aviation technology, having run a modified version of a standard jet engine at take-off power using hydrogen for fuel.
The company said it’s a key accomplishment in developing future carbon-free designs that can power future aircraft. “This involved overcoming significant engineering challenges as hydrogen burns far hotter and more rapidly than kerosene,” Rolls-Royce said. The tests were carried out on a modified Pearl 700 engine.
Newly developed fuel spray nozzles mix air with the hydrogen at precise levels to control the burn rate. A full ground test of the new technology is next.
The work is being carried out by a consortium of companies and academics led by easyJet and Roll-Royce called the UK Hydrogen in Aviation alliance.
“This is an incredible achievement in a short space of time,” said Grazia Vittadini, chief technology officer for Rolls-Royce.
“Controlling the combustion process is one of the key technology challenges the industry faces in making hydrogen a real aviation fuel of the future. We have achieved that, and it makes us eager to keep moving forward.”