Replacing fossil fuel vehicles of internal combustion engines with electric vehicles has become an apparent tendency, where many have started to target at transportation outside of vehicles, including electric boats and planes, and believe that fully electrified transports are on the horizon, which means that engines that utilize fossil fuel are marching towards the end. However, major aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce believes otherwise.
Rolls-Royce had sustained a severe impact from the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, and made a record loss of US$5.6 billion owing to how airlines stopped purchasing engines from the suspension in production lines under the cancellation of plane orders amidst the drastic reduction in flights.
Rolls-Royce, however, remains relatively optimistic towards the recovery of the aviation industry and fuel engines. The company commented that fuel turbine engines will still serve as the foundation for the aviation industry in the next several years, and other alternative technology, regardless of full electrification or hydrogen fuel, will not be practical for adopting on most commercial flights based on the existing technology. Hence, the idea of carbon reduction through fuel elimination is not possible right now. A better method is to elevate the efficiency of fuel engines that will reduce the level of fuel required to arrive at the destination, which achieves carbon decrement.
Rolls-Royce has released the latest engine prototype UltraFan accordingly, and commented that the particular engine has an energy efficiency that is 25% more than that of the first generation Trent. The company is currently testing the possibility of using 100% biomass aviation fuel for UltraFan, and hopes to transform the engine into a transitional item in carbon reduction for the aviation industry by first lowering on the usage of fuel that will fulfill carbon reduction indirectly, before switching to biomass aviation fuel to fully achieve zero carbon footprint. The UK, EU, Germany have all subsidized on the R&D of UltraFan.
UltraFan can be adopted in both wide and narrow-body aircrafts. Rolls-Royce is confident in the commercial application of UltraFan in the future, and commented that both Boeing and Airbus would try to seize the market by releasing new passenger aircrafts with the latest engines amidst the recovery phase of the aviation industry subsequent to the pandemic, and UltraFan will become a useful tool for the resurgence of the company.
(Cover photo source: Rolls-Royce)