Rolls-Royce and easyJet to develop hydrogen combustion engine technology

Rolls-Royce and easyJet to develop hydrogen combustion engine technology

Rolls-Royce and easyJet are embarking on H2ZERO, a partnership to develop hydrogen combustion engine technology for a range of aircraft including those in the narrowbody market segment.

The partnership aims to demonstrate that hydrogen has the potential to power a range of aircraft from the mid-2030s onwards.

Rolls-Royce brings its expertise in engine development and combustion systems, while easyJet – which is directly investing in the test programme – will contribute its operational knowledge and experience.

In a statement, Grazia Vittadini, chief technology and strategy officer, Rolls-Royce, said: “H2ZERO is a big step forward for Rolls-Royce and we are excited to be working with a partner that shares a desire to innovate and find new answers to aviation’s biggest challenges. We at Rolls-Royce want to be ready to pioneer sustainability with whatever the future requires, be it hydrogen, electric power, sustainable aviation fuel, or gas turbine efficiency. This agreement further inspires us to move forward.”

Through H2ZERO, the companies will support an early concept ground test of a Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine in the UK later this year, followed by a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine at a location that is yet to be decided. The programme will build on initial hydrogen combustion and fuel system rig tests that Rolls-Royce is undertaking with Cranfield and Loughborough universities.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said: “In order to achieve net zero by 2050, we have always said that radical action is needed to address aviation’s climate impact. That’s why today [July 19, 2022], we are so pleased to announce this partnership with Rolls-Royce.

“The technology that emerges from this programme has the potential to power easyJet-size aircraft, which is why we will also be making a multi-million pound investment into this programme.”

Lundgren continued: “In order to achieve decarbonisation at scale, progress on the development of zero emission technology for narrowbody aircraft is crucial. Together with Rolls-Royce we look forward to leading the industry to tackle this challenge head-on.”

The H2ZERO partnership has also been created in response to detailed studies and market research – including the UK Aerospace Technology Institute’s Fly Zero team and Project NAPKIN (New Aviation Propulsion Knowledge and Innovation Network) – which both concluded there is market potential for hydrogen-powered aircraft.