Aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and airline easyJet will collaborate on the development of hydrogen engines for aircraft. The companies want to carry out the first tests this year. Hydrogen engines could be used in the middle of the next decade.
The hydrogen combustion engines must be able to be used for several aircraft types, including narrow-body aircraft. These are single aisle aircraft with two rows of seats. Wider aircraft with multiple aisles will not be the press release named.
The two companies have agreed under the H2ZERO partnership to conduct multiple engine tests on the ground. The first test will start later this year, with a Rolls-Royce AE2100 engine. This is a turboprop engine with propellers that is used for the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, among others. The hydrogen test will take place in the United Kingdom.
Later, the two companies plan to test a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 hydrogen-powered turbofan engine. The Pearl 15 is a modified version of engines also used for the Boeing 717 and B-52 Stratofortress. It is not yet known where this test will take place, possibly in the United States.
The two companies ‘have the ambition’ to test the hydrogen engines in the air as well. Rolls-Royce develops and supplies aircraft engines, easyJet contributes operational knowledge and experience. The airline will also invest millions of pounds in the tests. With H2ZERO, the two companies aim to demonstrate that hydrogen aircraft can be deployed by the middle of the next decade.
H2ZERO is a follow-up to a research project the two companies started last year. Market analyzes were made and specifications for the engines were developed. Infrastructure and legislation were also examined. The two companies aim to be carbon neutral by 2050. EasyJet now only has narrow-body aircraft, although they do not use the two mentioned engines under test. Rolls-Royce says it wants to look not only at hydrogen, but also at electric, sustainable fuels and more efficient turbines.