• Tech Tech

Historic aircraft engine completes major test using innovative new fuel — here's what it could mean for future air travel

This breakthrough test proves that the fuel works in a real engine.

Photo Credit: Pratt & Whitney

Photo Credit: Pratt & Whitney

For the first time, a widely used commercial jet engine just completed a test powered solely by a more sustainable fuel that is partially plant-based, according to Interesting Engineering.

This exciting milestone brings us a big step closer to more sustainable air travel.

The V2500 engine, which powers many Airbus, McDonnell Douglas, and Embraer aircraft, has been in service for over 30 years. Running it on 100% sustainable aviation fuel made from renewable sources demonstrates the potential to lower the carbon footprint of flying with current technologies.

Sustainable aviation fuel has been years in the making. It reduces CO2 pollution by up to 80% compared to regular jet fuel, according to Airbus. And the best part? It can be produced from waste oils, fats, and even by capturing carbon directly from the air.

This breakthrough test proves that SAF works in the real world, not just in a lab. During the successful one-hour test in Germany, the V2500 engine performed well using only synthetic fuel derived from renewable raw materials such as vegetable oils and animal fats.

"During the V2500 engine test, Neste (an SAF producer) provided 100% hydroprocessed esters, fatty acids, and synthetic paraffinic kerosine (HEFA-SPK) fuel," Interesting Engineering wrote. "This fuel type uses renewable raw materials like waste oils or fats to create aviation turbine fuel."

"MTU Maintenance Hannover is the first maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility worldwide to carry out a 100% SAF test on a V2500," Michael Schreyögg, chief program officer at MTU Aero Engines, stated.

Air travel accounts for over 2% of global carbon pollution, according to the International Energy Agency. If the aviation industry were a country, it would be a top-10 polluter.

As more people take to the skies each year, finding sustainable flight solutions becomes increasingly urgent. In the United States, transportation is the largest source of planet-overheating gas pollution, which fuels more frequent extreme weather events that threaten our communities and food supply.

But SAF gives us a powerful tool to cut those emissions while still connecting humanity across distances. The less pollution we release, the more we protect our health and planet. Plus, who wouldn't feel better jet-setting on flights powered by French fry oil instead of dirty gases?

The International Air Transport Association, which represents 290 airlines, aims to reach net-zero carbon pollution by 2050. To get there, the industry is working to ensure all aircraft engines and fuel systems can run on 100% sustainable fuel.

With this successful V2500 test and the 3,000 aircraft it powers, International Aero Engines AG is gearing up most of its facilities for wider use of SAF within the next few years.

So, next time you board a plane, know that your aircraft may soon be powered by cleaner, greener fuel — a small change that will make a world of difference at 35,000 feet.

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider