As the aviation industry seeks to transition towards a post-carbon future, airplane manufactures are working in high gear to find greener alternatives to dirty jet fuel. One of the latest feats in this endeavor comes from Rolls-Royce engineers, who have begun testing the viability of using 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in small commercial business jets.
Rolls-Royce is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of aircraft engines and the recent tests are part of its goal to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
Airspace scientists prefer to use the name Sustainable Aviation Fuel over biofuel because some biofuels, like palm oil, can lead to serious environmental degradation. By contrast, SAFs are produced from a variety of sustainable sources, including municipal solids waste, cellulose waste from the forestry industry, used cooking oil, energy crops, as well as non-biological fuels like waste gases from steelworks.
SAF’s are particularly attractive for their potential to significantly cut CO2 emissions immediately. Such fuels can be “dropped in” by simply mixing them with conventional fuels without the need for extensive changes to existing infrastructure.
The Rolls-Royce scientists used the Pearl 700 business jet engines for their recent tests and said that the new fuel can reduce life-cycle CO2 emissions by more than 75 percent, and potentially even more with later refinements.
As explained by New Atlas, civil aviation authorities currently only allow blends of up to 50 percent SAFs with conventional kerosene jet fuel so the present tests are intended to prove that a 100-percent SAF can be used in conventional jet engines as a drop-in option.
“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,” says Dr. Joerg Au, Business Aviation and Engineering Director at Rolls-Royce Deutschland.