Rolls-Royce tests a jet engine running on hydrogen
Author: Theo Leggett
In a windswept corner of a military site on Salisbury Plain a small aircraft jet engine is undergoing tests that could one day lead to huge changes within the aviation industry. The engine itself is almost completely conventional. It is a Rolls-Royce AE-2100A gas turbine, a design used widely on regional aeroplanes around the world. What is wholly unusual about it is the fuel being used. This is the first time a modern aircraft engine has ever been run on hydrogen. The immediate aim is a simple one - to show that it is possible to run and control a jet engine using hydrogen fuel, rather than conventional aviation fuels. Yet hydrogen aviation remains a very long way off. The tests carried out so far have simply shown that a jet engine using hydrogen can be stad up and run at low speed. "The reason we're looking at hydrogen is really the drive for Net Zero," explains Alan Newby, director of aerospace technology at Rolls-Royce. "Normally we would run this thing on kerosene. Kerosene is a hydrocarbon and therefore produces carbon dioxide when it burns. "The beauty of looking at a fuel like hydrogen is that it doesn't contain any carbon and, therefore, when it burns it produces no CO2". The project is being suppod by easyJet, which has contributed several million pounds towards the initial trials.