Last week, the U.K-based company tested a hydrogen-powered plane, which, according to the Guardian, is thought to be the first of its kind.
Rolls-Royce carried out the hydrogen airplane test at an outdoor site in England using a converted regional aircraft engine. This project — and its success — shows that the aviation industry is making plans to reduce its carbon-intensive activities.
Currently, jet engines use dirty, carbon-based fuels that contribute significantly to our overheating planet. On average, a domestic flight creates around six times more emissions per person than a car with four passengers.
Rolls-Royce told the Guardian that its project is a “major step toward proving that hydrogen could be a zero-carbon aviation fuel of the future.”
The challenge now is proving that the engines can work in long-haul jet flights. Rolls-Royce and its testing partner EasyJet tested the fuel on an engine designed for slower speed, short-distance flights.
It was long assumed that hydrogen batteries were too heavy to be an environmentally friendly and viable solution. Rolls-Royce’s breakthrough shows that, while there’s a long way to go, planes may one day be powered by clean hydrogen.
So far, the breakthrough has drawn plenty of praise from governments and business leaders alike.
“The U.K. is leading the global shift to guilt-free flying, and the hydrogen atest is an exciting demonstration of how business innovation can transform the way we live our lives.”