Rolls-Royce testing unblended SAF for first time


As part of Rolls-Royce’s decarbonisation strategy, the firm is using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the first time in engine ground tests. The tests hope to show that unblended SAF makes a large improvement to the environmental performance of gas turbine 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 500m tonnes a year by 2050 – we can make a huge contribution for our planet.”

The SAF used in the tests has been produced by World Energy in its Paramount, California, facility. It was sourced by Shell Aviation and delivered by SkyNRG. Unblended fuel has the potential to reduce net CO2 lifecycle emissions by more than 75% compared with conventional jet fuel. There is potential for further reductions as technology develops too.

The tests aim to demonstrate that Rolls-Royce’s current engines can operate with unblended SAF as a full ‘drop-in’ option. At present, SAF is certified for blends of up to 50% with conventional jet fuel.

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.

Gene Gebolys, CEO 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, MD , 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.”