Engine maker extraordinaire Rolls-Royce continues on its drive to further the decarbonization of aviation. On Wednesday, the company announced it had signed an agreement to test sustainable aviation fuel from US-based Alder Fuels using the Rolls-Royce Pearl engine.

The testing laid out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two parties includes evaluating the energy efficiency, emissions criteria, and low-carbon credentials of the SAF produced from Alder’s proprietary greencrude technology. This is made using biomass that is then converted into what the company says is “low-carbon to carbon-negative” aviation fuel. It is currently being prepared for global rollout as a drop-in replacement to petroleum-based jet fuel.

The Pearl engine is Rolls-Royce‘s private aviation engine family. It is currently developing the Pearl 10X, designed exclusively to power Dassault‘s brand-new flagship, the Falcon 10X. Rolls-Royce’s SVP Strategy and Future Programmes – Business Aviation, commented on the agreement with Alder Fuels,

“The use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel as a low-emission solution and its global commercial deployment are essential to the decarbonisation of medium to long-haul air travel. While we are also working on electrification, hybrid-electric and hydrogen technologies as long-term alternatives, rapid decarbonisation is within reach through this critical pathway. Through our partnership with Alder Fuels, we are taking the next steps on our journey to net zero and are committed supporters of the UN Race to Zero goal of 10% SAF use across aviation by 2030.”

Greencrude amassing interest

Alder Fuels uses sustainable biomass such as regenerative grasses, forest residues and agricultural waste products to create low-carbon Alder Greencrude (AGC). This can then be converted into a drop-in SAF using existing bio and petroleum refinery infrastructure. The company has already established a partnership with Boeing and received a multi-million joint investment from United Airlines and Honeywell.

Its President and CEO, Bryan Sherbacow, commented on the next chapter with Rolls-Royce,

“At Alder, we are on a path to transform energy on the global stage and partnership is key to our vision. As a pioneer in both industrial technology and sustainable aviation, Rolls-Royce will play a leading role in decarbonizing the aerospace industry. Their name is synonymous with the best of engineering. Our hope is that this collaboration will not only mark an important milestone for the decarbonisation of aviation, but that it will send a strong global signal to the market that the future of sustainable flight is here and the time to transition is now.”

The engine tests will assess the performance of AGC-derived SAF compared to fossil-based jet fuel to further support its performance as a drop-in replacement for traditional jet fuel and generate critical data for the development of a 100% SAF specification by ASTM International. All Rolls-Royce Trent and Business Aviation engines are currently certified for up to 50% SAF. The company has promised to deliver on 100% SAF compatibility by 2023.

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