Rolls-Royce has announced its commitment to reducing carbon emissions by conducting the first tests of 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in a business jet engine.

The trial formed part of the engine manufacturer’s ongoing ambition to play a leading role in enabling the sectors in which the company operates to reach net zero carbon by 2050.

The tests took place on the company’s latest business aviation engine in development, the Pearl 700, in Dahlewitz, Germany. The results come just weeks after unblended SAF was successfully used for the first time in engine ground tests on a Trent 1000 engine in Derby, UK.

Rolls-Royce developing SAF “drop in” option

Rolls-Royce said that the test on the newly developed engine demonstrated that current engines for large civil and business jet applications could operate with 100 per cent SAF as a full “drop-in” option, laying the groundwork for moving this type of fuel towards certification.

At present, SAF is only certified for blends of up to 50 per cent with conventional jet fuel and can be used on all current Rolls-Royce engines. SAFs are derived from products including used vegetable oil, animal fats, sugar cane and other waste products. The use of 100 per cent SAFs will need safety certification from aviation regulators worldwide before they can be used for commercial flights.

The SAF used in Rolls-Royce tests was produced by low-carbon fuel specialist World Energy in Paramount, California, sourced by Shell Aviation and delivered by SkyNRG. The unblended fuel has the potential to reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by more than 75 per cent compared to conventional jet fuel, with the possibility of further reductions in future.

A “step closer” to zero emissions

Dr Joerg Au, Chief Engineer – Business Aviation and Engineering Director Rolls-Royce Deutschland, said: “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.”

The 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 per cent increase in take-off thrust at 18,250lb compared to the BR725 engine. The engine offers a 12 per cent better thrust-to-weight ratio and 5 per cent higher efficiency, while maintaining class-leading low noise and emissions performance.

The engine brings together technologies derived from the Rolls-Royce Advance2 technology demonstrator programmes together with experience from business aviation family the Rolls-Royce BR700.

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