Rolls-Royce is to team up with Air New Zealand and Boeing in flight evaluation of a renewable fuel source, as part of a wider research programme to understand renewable fuels and their potential future applications.
The evaluation, due to take place in the second half of 2008, will use a bio fuel blended with kerosene. An announcement on the source and mix will be made closer to the time of the flight. The fuel will be used on a Boeing 747-400, owned by Air New Zealand and powered by four Rolls-Royce RB211-524s. Only one engine will use the derived fuel, the remaining engines will be driven by kerosene.
Data will be gathered throughout the test process that will contribute to a wider understanding of the capabilities and limitations of renewable fuels and aid in the search for alternatives to kerosene. The evaluation will validate on a real engine what previous lab work has predicted.
After the evaluation has been completed, the engine will be examined for condition and overhauled prior to returning to normal operational service.
At an event to announce the launch of the initiative, Jim Sheard, Senior Vice President – Airlines for Rolls-Royce, said: “This programme signals the continuation of a very long journey. The environment is not a new subject for us and we’ve been investing in research that has been devoted to environmental improvement for many years. As a world-class engineering organisation, Rolls-Royce is particularly well placed to take a major role in this arena and we are committed to finding solutions. As an industry, we’ve already succeeded in driving down fuel burn by 70 per cent on a passenger per kilometre basis since the dawn of the jet age.
“Working together with Air New Zealand and Boeing, we can reach a better understanding of renewable fuel technologies that might help the industry improve its environmental impact in the long term.”
Rolls-Royce is continually improving the environmental impact of its products. Each year Rolls-Royce, in collaboration with its partners, invests around £700 million on research and development, two thirds of which has the objective of reducing the environmental impact of its products. This technology investment is primarily aimed at reducing noise and emissions.