A further key milestone, a world industry first, has been achieved in its hydrogen research project.
Both Rolls-Royce and its partner easyJet are committed to being at the forefront of the development of hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft, including those in the narrow-body market segment, from the mid-2030s onwards.
Now, working with Loughborough University in the UK and the German Aerospace Centre Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), Rolls-Royce has proven a critical engine technology that marks another significant step in the journey to enabling hydrogen as an aviation fuel.
Hydrogen testing at Loughborough University
Tests on a full annular combustor of a Pearl 700 engine at DLR in Cologne running on 100% hydrogen have proven the fuel can be combusted at conditions that represent maximum take-off thrust.
Key to that achievement has been the successful design of advanced fuel spray nozzles to control the combustion process.
This involved overcoming significant engineering challenges as hydrogen burns far hotter and more rapidly than kerosene.
The new nozzles were able to control the flame position using a new system that progressively mixes air with the hydrogen to manage the fuel’s reactivity. Rolls-Royce is pleased to confirm that combustor operability and emissions were both in line with expectations.
The individual nozzles were initially tested at intermediate pressure at Loughborough’s recently upgraded test facilities and at DLR Cologne before the final full-pressure combustor tests took place at DLR Cologne.
Last year, easyJet and Rolls-Royce also set a world first by successfully running a modern aero engine, an AE2100, on green hydrogen at Boscombe Down, UK.
These recent tests mean the combustion element of the hydrogen programme is now well understood, while work continues on systems to deliver the fuel to the engine and integrate those systems with an engine.