Rolls-Royce has announced that it has successfully completed compatibility testing of 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on all its in-production civil aero engine types.
The successful test fulfils a commitment, made in 2021, to demonstrate there are no engine technology barriers to the use of 100% SAF.
Testing involved a variety of ground and flight tests to replicate in-service conditions, and all tests confirmed that the use of 100% SAF does not affect engine performance.
Despite its high cost to produce, SAF holds promise as a “drop-in” fuel that can seamlessly replace conventional jet fuel, paving the way for a more sustainable future for aviation. When the complete lifecycle of SAF is considered, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) estimates the net CO2 lifecycle emissions of unblended SAFs are up to 80% lower than conventional fuel.
The recent tests provide valuable insights into the potential of the fuel to decarbonise the industry, which contributed 2% to global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
“Becoming the first jet engine manufacturer to publicly confirm all our in-production engines for long-haul aircraft and business jets are compatible with 100% SAF, is an important milestone for both Rolls-Royce and the wider aviation industry,” said Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO, Rolls-Royce.
The Rolls-Royce SAF story continues later this month when its Trent 1000 engines will power a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Flight 100, the world’s first transatlantic 100% SAF flight.
The Virgin Atlantic led consortium, sponsored by the UK Department for Transport, includes Boeing, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London and Rocky Mountain Institute. The return flight, on regular jet fuel, will prove the engine and aircraft can run on either fuel type without engineering changes.
Rolls-Royce estimates that to reach Net Zero flying by 2050, a combination of highly-efficient latest-generation gas turbines operating on 100% SAF is likely to contribute around 80% of the total solution.
In another recent significant step forward, Emirates and Shell Aviation inked an agreement in October to supply over 300,000 gallons of SAF for use at Dubai International Airport (DXB), Emirates’ global hub.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom has pledged to become a ‘world leader’ in the SAF sector by implementing a revenue certainty mechanism. This mechanism aims to provide SAF producers with greater assurance regarding the earnings generated from their SAF production.
“The world’s journey to decarbonising flight is powered by British innovation and backed by the UK Government, meaning people can continue to travel how they want, in a way that’s fit for the future,” commented UK Transport Secretary, Mark Harper.
“Today’s news demonstrates that Rolls-Royce and the UK are global leaders in decarbonising transport, taking us one step closer to Jet Zero.”
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