It has been announced that EasyJet and Rolls-Royce plan to develop hydrogen combustion engines that can power a variety of aircraft.
As part of the new “H2Zero” partnership, which is inspired by the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign, engine tests will begin later this year.
The project aims to demonstrate hydrogen’s potential for fueling aircraft by the mid-2030s.
Later this year, Rolls-Royce will conduct an early concept ground test for its AE2100 engine in the UK, followed by a “full-scale” ground test for its Pearl 15 engine overseas.
In collaboration with Cranfield and Loughborough universities, Rolls-Royce will test hydrogen combustion and fuel systems.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said that for the airline to achieve net zero by 2050 “radical action is needed”.
“The technology that emerges from this programme has the potential to power easyJet-size aircraft, which is why we will also be making a multi-million pound investment into this programme,” he said.
“In order to achieve decarbonisation at scale, progress on the development of zero emission technology for narrow-body aircraft is crucial. Together with Rolls-Royce we look forward to leading the industry to tackle this challenge head-on.”
Grazia Vittadini, Rolls-Royce’s chief technology officer, said the programme was “a big step forward” and a way to “find new answers to aviation’s biggest challenges”.
“We at Rolls-Royce want to be ready to pioneer sustainability with whatever the future requires, be it hydrogen, electric power, sustainable aviation fuel, or gas turbine efficiency. This agreement further inspires us to move forward,” she added.