Rolls-Royce successfully completes 100% SAF test program

A Rolls-Royce engine being tested with 100% SAF fuel.
Photo Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce [LSE: RR] has declared the successful completion of compatibility testing for 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) across all its in-production civil aero engine types.

This achievement not only fulfills a commitment made in 2021 but also signifies a pivotal step in revolutionizing the aviation industry’s approach to sustainable energy.

Engine Compatibility

Rolls-Royce’s journey towards sustainable aviation took a significant leap forward with a comprehensive ground test on a BR710 business jet engine at its facility in Canada.

The test regime extended to various engines, including Trent 700, Trent 800, Trent 900, Trent 1000, Trent XWB-84, Trent XWB-97, Trent 7000, BR725, Pearl 700, Pearl 15, and Pearl 10X.

These tests, encompassing both ground and flight scenarios to replicate in-service conditions, emphatically confirmed that the utilization of 100% SAF has no adverse effects on engine performance.

A Rolls-Royce test engine
Photo Credit: Rolls-Royce


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The UltraFan Engine

Beyond ensuring compatibility with existing engines, Rolls-Royce has already demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by incorporating 100% SAF in its new generation UltraFan engine demonstrator.

The successful inaugural run earlier this year solidifies the engine’s capability to operate seamlessly on sustainable aviation fuel.

Trent 1000 Powers Virgin Atlantic’s Dreamliner

The Rolls-Royce SAF narrative continues with the upcoming Trent 1000-powered Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight, known as Flight 100.

This historic journey, sponsored by the Department for Transport and featuring a consortium including Boeing, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London, and Rocky Mountain Institute, marks the world’s first transatlantic flight powered entirely by 100% SAF.

The return leg, on conventional jet fuel, will showcase the engine’s adaptability without necessitating engineering changes.

Environmental Impact and Net Zero Goals

Sustainable Aviation Fuel emerges as a crucial player in aviation’s energy transition, offering a “drop-in” alternative to conventional fuel.

Considering the lifecycle of SAF, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that unblended SAFs can reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuel.

Rolls-Royce envisions that achieving Net Zero flying by 2050 involves highly-efficient latest-generation gas turbines operating on 100% SAF, contributing around 80% to the overall solution.

Future Commercial Flights

While current regulations from ASTM International allow a maximum blend of 50% SAF with conventional jet fuel, Rolls-Royce’s in-production civil aero engines are already certified for this blend.

The successful completion of 100% SAF tests not only showcases technological prowess but also opens the door for future commercial flights powered entirely by sustainable aviation fuel.

Leadership Comments

Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of Rolls-Royce plc, emphasizes the significance of this milestone, stating, “Becoming the first jet engine manufacturer to publicly confirm all our in-production engines for long-haul aircraft and business jets are compatible with 100% SAF, is an important milestone for both Rolls-Royce and the wider aviation industry.”

Simon Burr, Group Director of Engineering, Technology, and Safety at Rolls-Royce plc, adds, “This is an important milestone, not just for Rolls-Royce, but also for the wider civil aerospace industry.”

“We hope the success of these tests provides a level of technical validation that supports those who seek to invest in the production of 100% SAF going forward.”

Rolls-Royce’s successful compatibility testing for 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel marks a pivotal moment in the aviation industry’s journey towards sustainability.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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