Green energy alliance

Rolls-Royce is to collaborate with Air New Zealandand Boeing in flight evaluation of a renewable fuel source. The research is part of a wider programme to understand renewable fuels and their future uses.

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. Rolls-Royce hope that the evaluation will validate 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.

‘This programme signals the continuation of a very long journey,’ said Jim Sheard, Senior Vice President – Airlines for Rolls-Royce. ‘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 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.’