Aircraft engine test
Rolls-Royce has successfully tested the first aircraft engine to use hydrogen as fuel. This was reported on Monday by the BBC Broadcasting Corporation.
It is noted that during the tests at the military range in Salisbury Plain, it was possible to launch the engine and observe its operation at low speeds using hydrogen as fuel.
The engine was "virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary Rolls-Royce AE-2100A," which is fitted to "regional jets around the world", the BBC said. This hydrogen engine test, conducted by Rolls-Royce in conjunction with airline EasyJet, was "the first of its kind".
The use of hydrogen fuel in aviation will mainly "dramatically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere", Rolls-Royce explains. Unlike another low-carbon initiative, the use of batteries instead of paraffin, hydrogen has a much greater energy capacity, which will also allow it to be used for transport on larger aircraft.
However, widespread adoption of the technology is still some time away because it requires "extensive research and investment". The liquid hydrogen has a temperature of minus 235 degrees Celsius and takes "four times the volume" compared to paraffin, which creates "a number of additional difficulties" in the design, the company explained.
In addition, switching to hydrogen engines would require a complete redesign of airframes and infrastructure at airports.
Eric Schulz, chief executive of SHZ Consulting, said in July that the design changes are so extensive that more than one generation of aircraft would be required.
Grant Shapps, UK Business Secretary, described the demonstration as "a shining example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner, creating jobs across the country.
Grazia Vittadini, Rolls-Royce's chief technical officer, said the test was an "exciting milestone".
In addition, a number of experts, quoted by the BBC, estimate that production of the fuel "will not take decades" to reach the scale required to produce the volume of liquid hydrogen required for large-scale use in air travel.
Despite these challenges, the Salisbury trial could prove to be the "first tentative steps" that will lead to a "technological revolution in the industry", the BBC concludes.