Rolls-Royce Just Flew A Boeing 747 Jumbo With 100% Sustainable Fuel

The desire for clean air travel really needs no explanation. With the aviation industry said to be responsible for around 5% of global warming, many have taken a very careful interest in the emerging technologies that may offer a sustainable alternative down the track. In the field of developing sustainable fuel for aviation, Rolls-Royce may have gotten us off the runway.

A 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) was developed by World Energy, made from waste materials like cooking oil or animal fats used at restaurants. This biofuel is said to reduce particulate matter by 90%, offer 80% less carbon dioxide emissions and completely eliminate sulphur oxide. On top of all of this, it is preventing flooding landfills.

Currently, all aircraft are only certified to operate on a maximum 50:50 SAF to conventional jet fuel blend. Rolls-Royce is committed to a future that involves non-blended SAF and has even announced plans to make its Trent engines compatible with 100% SAF by 2023.

rolls royce sustainable fuel

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To test their hypothesis here, Rolls-Royce attempted a nearly four-hour test flight in a Boeing jumbo jet using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. The 747 was equipped with a Trent 1000 turbofan engine running on purely unblended SAF provided by World Energy, with the remaining three RB211 mills using standard jet fuel. Boeing was on hand to offer technical support.

The 747 completed its flight from Arizona’s Tuscan airport across New Mexico and Texas, before returning to the airport. The aircraft encountered no engineering issues during the test, confirming Rolls-Royce’s beliefs in SAF as a viable alternative to fossil jet fuel. With US President Joe Biden recently announcing a sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge that will produce three billion gallons of the SAF by 2030, commercial use of the stuff may well be around the corner.

rolls royce sustainable fuel

“We believe in air travel as a force for cultural good, but we also recognize the need to take action to decarbonize our industry,” Simon Burr, Rolls-Royce’s director of product development and technology for civil aerospace, said in a statement.

“This flight is another example of collaboration across the value chain to make sure all the aircraft technology solutions are in place to enable a smooth introduction of 100% SAF into our industry.”