EasyJet and Rolls-Royce have a groundbreaking new partnership, H2ZERO, which will pioneer the development of hydrogen internal combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft, including the narrow-body market segment.
The two companies have committed to working together on a series of ground-based engine tests starting later this year, and have shared ambitions to take the technology into the air. The goal of the partnership is to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used to power a variety of aircraft from the mid-2030s.
While Rolls-Royce will bring its expertise in engine and combustion systems development, easyJet will bring its knowledge and experience to H2ZERO, as well as directly invest in the test programme.
Through H2ZERO, the companies will support the first ground trials of the Rolls-Royce AE 2100 engine concept in the UK later this year. This will be followed by full-scale ground testing of the Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine – for which a number of location options are being evaluated, including Rolls-Royce US test center in Mississippi. The program will build on the initial tests of the hydrogen combustion plant and fuel system that Rolls-Royce is conducting with Cranfield and Loughborough Universities in the UK.
H2ZERO is inspired by the UN-backed global Race to Zero campaign, which both companies have signed up to, committing to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The agreement follows a research project that both companies began in 2021, developing a market analysis, control specifications, researching the infrastructure and regulatory requirements to support the use of hydrogen in aviation.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said: “To achieve net zero by 2050, we have always said that radical action is needed to tackle aviation’s climate impact. That’s why today we’re excited to announce our partnership with Rolls-Royce. The technology resulting from this program has the potential to power aircraft the size of easyJet, so we will also be making a multi-million dollar investment in this programme. Progress in the development of zero-emission technology for narrow-body aircraft is essential to achieving large-scale decarbonisation. Together with Rolls-Royce, we look forward to leading the industry in tackling this challenge.”
Grazia Vitadini, Rolls-Royce Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, said: “H2ZERO is a big step forward for Rolls-Royce and we are delighted to be working with a partner who shares our desire to innovate and find new answers to aviation’s biggest challenges. . We at Rolls-Royce want to pioneer sustainability with all the demands of the future, whether it’s hydrogen, electricity, sustainable aviation fuel or gas turbine efficiency. This agreement further inspires us to move forward.”
The H2ZERO partnership was created in response to detailed research and market research, including the UK Aerospace Institute’s Fly Zero team and the NAPKIN (New Aviation Propulsion Knowledge and Innovation Network) project, which concluded that there was market potential for hydrogen-powered aircraft.
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