ROLLS-ROYCE TO TEST 100% SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL IN NEXT GENERATION ENGINE DEMONSTRATOR

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  • Ground tests with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) to demonstrate Rolls-Royce engines can unlock SAF’s potential to reduce emissions

As part of its ongoing decarbonisation strategy, Rolls-Royce is to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel for the first time in engine ground tests on next-generation engine technology.

The tests will aim to confirm that unblended SAF makes a significant contribution to improving the environmental performance of gas turbine engines. 

The SAF being 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 significantly reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by more than 75 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel, with the possibility of further reductions in years to come.

These tests aim to demonstrate that our current engines can operate with 100% SAF as a full “drop-in” option, laying the groundwork for moving such fuels towards certification. At present, SAF is certified for blends of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel and can be used on all current Rolls-Royce engines. 

Starting in the coming weeks in Derby, UK, the ground tests will involve a Trent engine which also incorporates ALECSys (Advanced Low Emissions Combustion System) lean-burn technology.

ALECSys is part of the UltraFan® next generation engine demonstrator programme, which offers a 25% fuel saving over the first generation of Trent engines.   

Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce Chief Technology Officer, said: “Aviation is a tremendous force for good, keeping the world connected, but we have to do that sustainably. These tests aim to show that we can deliver real emissions reductions. If SAF production can be scaled up – and aviation needs 500 million tonnes a year by 2050 – we can make a huge contribution for our planet.”  

Gene Gebolys, Chief Executive Officer and founder, World Energy, said: “World Energy exists to empower leaders to innovate by providing the world’s most advanced low carbon fuels. Rolls-Royce is putting their technological prowess to work to understand how to maximise their potential in engines and we are proud to support them.” 

Theye Veen, Managing Director, SkyNRG, added: “This programme is a great example of what can be achieved when companies from across the aviation value chain that share an ambition of reducing emissions work together. As a pioneer in SAF, SkyNRG encourages innovative tests like this run by Rolls-Royce.” 

In addition to supplying the SAF with SkyNRG, Shell Aviation is also providing Rolls-Royce with AeroShell lubricants for the ALECSys engine test programme. 

Anna Mascolo, President, Shell Aviation, commented: “For over 100 years, Rolls-Royce and Shell have worked together to drive aviation’s progress. This collaboration brings us one step closer to decarbonising Aviation. As well as the SAF, Shell Aviation will provide offsets using nature-based solutions to make the test net zero emissions, reinforcing how multiple measures are essential if aviation is to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions.” 

The ALECSys programme is supported by the European Union via Clean Sky and in the UK by the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK; the 100% SAF testing programme is additionally supported by ATI, iUK and Gulf Aviation. 

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc:

Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs. In 2019, Rolls-Royce invested £1.46 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 29 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.

About Shell Aviation:

With one of the most extensive refuelling networks in the world Shell Aviation supplies fuel, lubricants, and solutions in more than 60 countries. As part of our carbon management strategy, we actively collaborate across the industry to deliver more sustainable solutions for aviation. Examples include our work with World Energy, SkyNRG, Amazon Air, Neste and Red Rock, and at San Francisco Airport and Stuttgart Airport. Shell Aviation is proud to be a member of “The Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition” and the UK government’s Jet Zero Council.

About World Energy:

World Energy is one of the largest and longest-serving advanced biofuel suppliers in North America. Founded in 1998, the company operates biodiesel manufacturing plants in Houston, Texas, Natchez, Miss., Rome, Ga., Harrisburg, Pa., Hamilton, Ont., In Paramount, Calif. the company operates a renewable diesel refinery and the first commercial sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) facility in the world. The company also has distribution hubs throughout the U.S. and Canada.

About SkyNRG:

SkyNRG is the pioneer and global leader for sustainable aviation fuel. Having supplied over 30 airlines on all continents, it is SkyNRG’s mission to make SAF the new global standard, driven by sustainable practices throughout the supply chain.