Rolls-Royce recently conducted the first 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tests in a business jet engine, as part of the company’s ongoing ambition to play a leading role in enabling the sectors in which it operates to reach net-zero carbon by 2050. The tests on its latest business aviation engine in development, the Pearl 700, in Dahlewitz, Germany, come just weeks after unblended SAF was successfully used for the first time in engine ground tests on a Trent 1000 engine Derby, United Kingdom.
This test demonstrated once again that current Rolls-Royce engines for large civil and business jet applications can operate with 100% SAF as a full “drop-in” option, laying the groundwork for moving this type of fuel towards certification. Currently, SAF is only certified for blends of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel and can be used on all current Rolls-Royce engines.
The SAF used in the tests was produced by low-carbon fuel specialist World Energy in Paramount, California, sourced by Shell Aviation and delivered by SkyNRG. This unblended fuel has the potential to reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by more than 75% compared to conventional jet fuel, with the possibility of further reductions in future.
“Sustainable aviation fuels have the potential to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of our engines and combining this potential with the extraordinary performance of our Pearl engine family brings us another important step closer to enabling our customers to achieve net-zero carbon emissions,” said Dr. Joerg Au, Chief Engineer-Business Aviation and Engineering Director of Rolls-Royce Deutschland.
The highly efficient Pearl 700 combines the Advance2 engine core, the most efficient core available across the business aviation sector, with a brand-new low-pressure system, resulting in an 8% increase in take-off thrust at 18,250 pounds compared to the BR725 engine. The engine offers a 12% better thrust-to-weight ratio and 5% higher efficiency while maintaining its class-leading low noise and emissions performance.
It brings together innovative technologies derived from the Rolls-Royce Advance2 technology demonstrator programs with experience from the Rolls-Royce BR700, today’s leading engine family in business aviation. It includes a highly efficient 51.8-inch blisked (bladed disk) fan, a high-pressure compressor with a market-leading pressure ratio of 24:1 and six blisked stages, an ultralow emissions combustor, a two-stage shroudless high-pressure turbine and an enhanced four-stage low-pressure turbine that is one of the most efficient and compact in the industry.
Aviation CO2 emissions in Europe drops 57% in 2020
Meanwhile, amidst travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation led to a 56.9% reduction in CO2 emissions from flights across Europe last year compared with 2019. In a report from AIN Online, Eurocontrol recently released the data containing the results. “The cuts essentially fall in line with the 54.5% decline in the number of departing flights,” the agency noted.
The report shows considerable differences in CO2 reduction between countries, however, “driven by differences in the local fleet (lighter or heavier, younger or older aircraft), flight distances (shorter- or longer-haul), the mix of market segments (cargo, scheduled, business aviation, etc.), and the extent of the Covid-19-related decline in flights.”
AIN Online also cited as an example that in Belgium, departing flights declined by about half in 2020, similar to the European average. “CO2 production fell only 30%, however, due largely to the high proportion of cargo flights operating from the country. Cargo operations in Belgium, which increased from 11% of the total in 2019 to 25% in 2020, use larger aircraft and fly farther than the Belgian average, and therefore generate above-average CO2 emissions.
“The second reason centered on the fact that the high number of short-haul cancellations resulted in the average scheduled flight travelling far longer distances than those in 2019 and, therefore, generating more CO2,” the report explained. (Story by Rolls-Royce and AIN Online; Images by Rolls-Royce)
Watch this video explaining how SAF is being integrated into Rolls-Royce’s aviation goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMcLRr_AaZs