Rolls-Royce has successfully conducted its first tests on a business jet engine using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), it announced February 1. The demonstration, conducted at the manufacturer’s facility in Dahlewitz, Germany, comes on the heels of a similar test using a Trent 1000 engine in the UK. This latest experiment used a Pearl 700 engine that’s under development for the new Gulfstream G700 and confirmed that the company’s current commercial and business jet powerplants “can operate with 100 percent SAF as a full ‘drop-in’ option, laying the groundwork for moving this type of fuel towards certification.”
SAF certification is currently limited to blends of up to 50 percent with conventional jet fuel, depending on which of the several approved production pathways was used. The SAF used in this test was produced by California-based World Energy, sourced by Shell Aviation, and delivered by SkyNRG.
Unblended SAF has the potential to reduce CO2 lifecycle emissions by more than 75 percent compared to conventional jet fuel, but its adoption may be some time in the future due to a variety of factors including production levels and the inability of some legacy engines to use the unblended fuel, resulting in a need for additional fuel infrastructure.
“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.”
With 18,250 lbs of thrust, the Pearl 700 is Rolls-Royce’s latest business aviation engine and uses a newly-designed low-pressure system for an 8 percent improvement on takeoff over the BR725. It offers a 12 percent better thrust-to-weight ratio and 5 percent higher efficiency compared to its predecessor.