Rolls-Royce Achieves SAF Milestone
Rolls-Royce Holdings plc
Rolls-Royce has announced the successful completion of compatibility testing for 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) across all its currently produced civil aero engine types.
This achievement, in line with the commitment made in 2021, demonstrates the absence of engine technology barriers hindering the utilisation of 100% SAF.
The comprehensive test regime included a ground test on a BR710 business jet engine at the company's Canadian facility, covering a range of engines such as Trent 700, Trent 800, Trent 900, Trent 1000, Trent XWB-84, Trent XWB-97, Trent 7000, BR725, Pearl 700, Pearl 15, and Pearl 10X. Various ground and flight tests were conducted to simulate in-service conditions, confirming that the use of 100% SAF does not impact engine performance.
Rolls-Royce CEO Tufan Erginbilgic emphasised the significance of being the first jet engine manufacturer to publicly confirm the compatibility of all in-production engines for long-haul aircraft and business jets with 100% SAF. This milestone reflects Rolls-Royce's commitment to becoming a net-zero company by 2050 and supporting customers in achieving the same goal.
Simon Burr, Group Director of Engineering, Technology, and Safety at Rolls-Royce, highlighted the broader importance of this achievement for the civil aerospace industry. The successful tests aim to provide technical validation supporting future investments in 100% SAF production.
UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper commended Rolls-Royce's role in advancing the global journey toward decarbonising flight. He emphasised the UK's leadership in this endeavour, aligning with the government's commitment to sustainable aviation.
In addition to proving compatibility with in-production engines, Rolls-Royce has extended this capability to its new generation UltraFan engine demonstrator. The engine demonstrated its compatibility with 100% SAF during its inaugural run earlier this year.
Rolls-Royce's SAF story continues with Trent 1000 engines powering a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Flight 100, marking the world's first transatlantic 100% SAF flight. The Virgin Atlantic-led consortium, sponsored by the Department for Transport, includes Boeing, the University of Sheffield, Imperial College London, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. The return flight, on regular jet fuel, will demonstrate the engine and aircraft's ability to run on either fuel type without engineering changes.
SAF holds significant potential as a "drop-in" alternative to conventional fuel, supporting aviation's energy transition journey. Taking into account the lifecycle of SAF, IATA estimates that the net CO2 lifecycle emissions of unblended SAFs are up to 80% lower than conventional fuel.
Rolls-Royce projects that, to achieve Net Zero flying by 2050, highly efficient latest-generation gas turbines operating on 100% SAF will likely contribute around 80% of the total solution. While international standards currently permit up to 50% SAF blending with conventional jet fuel, Rolls-Royce's successful 100% SAF tests provide valuable support for a pathway to commercial flights solely on 100% SAF.
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