Rolls-Royce has reached a new milestone by successfully operating a Pearl 700 turbojet using hydrogen as fuel, at least a complete annular combustion chamber of a Pearl 700 engine at the DLR in Cologne.
Rolls-Royce and easyJet aim for mid-2030s
Rolls-Royce has announced that a new key milestone has been reached in its hydrogen research project. Rolls-Royce and its partner easyJet are committed to pioneering the development of hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft in the narrow-body aircraft market segment, from the mid-2030s.
With DLR and a Pearl 700 engine
In collaboration with Loughborough University in the United Kingdom and the German Aerospace Center Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), Rolls-Royce has demonstrated engine technology that marks another important step on the path of the use of hydrogen as an aeronautical fuel. Tests on a complete annular combustion chamber of a Pearl 700 engine at the DLR in Cologne, running 100% on hydrogen, were successful. They proved that fuel can be in conditions corresponding to maximum takeoff thrust.
Key to this achievement was the successful design of advanced fuel spray injectors to control the hydrogen combustion process. This required overcoming significant technical challenges, as hydrogen burns much hotter and faster than kerosene. The new injectors were able to control the position of the flame using a new system that gradually mixes air with hydrogen to manage the reactivity of the fuel.
After the AE2100
Rolls-Royce confirmed that combustion chamber operability and combustion chamber emissions were as expected. The individual injectors were first tested at intermediate pressure at the recently upgraded Loughborough testing facilities and then at DLR’s Cologne testing facilities, before final full pressure combustion chamber testing took place at DLR. from Cologne. Last year, easyJet and Rolls-Royce also achieved a world first by successfully running a modern aero engine, an AE2100, on green hydrogen at the Boscombe Down test center in the UK.