Rolls-Royce and easyJet run converted engine on hydrogen


Rolls-Royce and easyJet have completed a ground test on a converted regional aircraft engine using green hydrogen.

In what has been called the world’s first run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen, the test used green hydrogen produced from wind and tidal power. Testing took place at an outdoor facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. Green hydrogen for the tests was supplied by the European Marine Energy Centre from their hydrogen production and tidal test facility on Eday in the Orkney Islands, UK.

Grazia Vittadini, chief technology officer, 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 analysis of this early concept ground test, a series of further rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Pearl 15 jet engine are planned. The two companies have a longer-term goal of performing flight tests.

The UK is leading the global shift to guilt-free flying, according to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. “The test by Rolls-Royce and easyJet is an exciting demonstration of how business innovation can transform the way we live our lives,” he said.

“This is a true British success story, with the hydrogen being used to power the jet engine today produced using tidal and wind energy from the Orkney Islands of Scotland – and is a prime example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner while driving jobs across the country,” added Shapps.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said: “This is a real success for our partnership team. We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft. That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.”

The development is  good news for Rolls-Royce as it continues to forge ahead on zero-emission aircraft propulsion development, said Harry Boneham, aerospace analyst at GlobalData . “It’s likely that a future commercial aviation market will be defined by sustainability concerns as consumer expectations and government regulation continues to grow. Rolls-Royce is taking a leading roll in the development of technologies that will be required to reach ambitious environmental targets such as net-zero emissions from commercial aviation by 2050,” he said.